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600 affected by Assam floods; new norms for relief camps due to COVID

Over 600 in Assam have been affected in the first floods of the season following continuous rainfall and the release of dam water. According to a bulletin issued by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) on Friday evening, 630 people in two villages of the Kalgachia revenue circle in Barpeta district were affected.

"The rain [following Cyclone Amphan] has aided the floods but another reason is the release of water from the Kurichu dam in Bhutan," said Pankaj Chakrabarty, state project coordinator, ASDMA.

An official from the ASDMA said that this was the 'first instance' of floods this season, and not necessarily a 'wave'. "As a result of the rains, the Beki river water levels have risen and low lying areas near the river have been affected," said the official, adding that the people have not been required to be shifted to relief camps yet.

Floods impact Assam annually affecting major portions of the states and displacing lakhs. Last year, in one of the worst reported floods in the decade, all 33 districts of the state were affected.

According to the bulletin, the Jia Bharali River was flowing above the danger mark in Sonitpur district where erosion was reported from different areas.

In view of the COVID-19 outbreak, the ASDMA has also issued fresh guidelines for the management of relief camps during the flood season.

"If a COVID-19 outbreak happens in one of the relief camps, then it will spiral out of control, that is why we have issued special guidelines and initiated a separate setup," said Chakrabarty.

Earlier while people from entire villages would be mass evacuated and put in schools, preparations are being made to identify the capacity of different relief camps. "People will be evacuated as per the capacity of each designated camp," said Chakrabarty, adding that a village-level evacuation team will also be put in place to lead the evacuation.

Inside the relief camps too, there are a number of new directives to be followed. As per the new guidelines, instead of the earlier 3.5 square metres earmarked per person in the camp, the space will double to 7 square metres. "If tents are used for shelter, these should not be erected closely. Minimum 20 metres distance shall be maintained between two tents," stated the guidelines. It also said that people showing fever symptoms will be immediately segregated and given for medical care. Additionally, water per person will be increased from 20 litres to 30 litres per day.

The camps will be no-spitting and no-tobacco zones, and masks, soaps and sanitisers will be made available.

Assam has reported 319 Covid-19 positive cases so far — out of which 258 are active, and four have died.

(Inputs and image from theindianexpress.com)

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