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The rainfall was not unusual or excessive in a day in Tripura but 2018 flood was a typical for the state after 1976. The loss of life, property and public infrastructure was damaged severely and highest in the history of Tripura. The state has recorded the death of as many as 21 persons in last three months due to flood, landslides, and lightning while the total loss was estimated at more than Rs 2300 Cr so far. Tripura witnessed at least five major floods from March this year that damaged almost all the roads including national highways, railway tracks, bridges and power supply system. According to record in pre-monsoon, Tripura has received 150 percent more and in the first month of monsoon (June), it is more than 45 percent rainfall, which caused repeated floods in the state. The capital city Agartala has been hit badly by a flash flood almost every day in three months. It is observed that all the cover drains in Agartala have been creating an obstruction in the free flow of water because of improper elevation of drain surfaces and huge deposition soil and construction materials.

 Under Smart City mission, Agartala was given fund for correction of the drainage system but it was also not used properly in last one year. The State Government had spent Rs 100 Cr for covering about 10 kilometers of storm water drains in the major parts of the city but due to improper execution, all the drains were chocked. Land use of more than 267 water-bodies was either converted for buildings or encroached for construction in past two years in the state that resulted in the loss of water holding a capacity of the urban areas.

Unscientific sand mining across river banks have caused massive erosion and change the natural course of rivers in the state. Tripura has a record of 3000 mm rainfall annually and 463 mm rainfall in 24 hrs but the inundation triggered this year severe, only due to 127 mm rainfall in a day. The national green tribunal had put restrictions on unscientific sand mining and directed the state to adopt scientific strategies for extraction of sand from the river without disturbing the natural course in 2016. Unfortunately, Tripura did not execute it till date. The extraction of sand in Tripura is done from the river bank considering the approachability of vehicles to load it. The basic principle of sand extraction from the middle of the river preferably through the machine is to excavate the river and dragging the river bed to help enhance the flow of water but it was not in the state. Tripura has no record of dragging of any river bed till date but the uncontrolled human activities; the river has become a dumping ground for the people. The siltation in river beds reduced the water holding capacity of the rivers and affected the flow of water. As a result, during dry season people living in downstream rivers suffer from a shortage of water and in rainy days it appears to reverse. There was demand for restoration of water bodies; construction of stormwater drains and desilting the river bed as well as to making land use plan for the state but it was not done.

The embankments of the rivers along the human habitations became fragile due to the open dumping of waste near them, allowed shops, housing and plantations across the embankments. In some cases, the administration allowed them embankment as a road for vehicular movements that also weakened them. The tributaries of 10 major rivers of the state were disturbed and allowed habitation and commercial activities along them triggered flash flood situation in semi-urban pockets. The main drains which used to carry goods by boat were now lost for water flowing capacity because of human activity on them. None of the urban body of Tripura could able to ensure solid waste management at the household level and commercial establishments.

Biswendu Bhattacharjee

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