Disastrously Yours – The Brahmaputra river

A long time ago, weak floods of short duration used to be more beneficial than destructive for the state of Assam. One significant advantage of these weak floods was that they used to bring sediments and deposits with them. These new sediments and deposits rejuvenated the land and made it more fertile.

However, it has been completely changed over time. With more frequent and intense floods, the area has witnessed huge catastrophes and 4.27 lakh hectares of land (7% of total land) in Assam have been eroded by the Brahmputra river and its tributaries in the last few decades according to Assam Government’s website. On average, 800 hectares of area is eroded annually in the state. The website also highlights that due to riverbank erosions, the width of the river Brahmputra has increased up to 15 km at some places, and the area occupied by the river has increased drastically over the years. In 1975, the area of the Brahmaputra river was 4,850 sq km, however, according to a recent survey, it has expanded to 6,080 sq km. If the embankments are not regularly serviced or cleaned, they get choked as the river carries plenty of deposits and sediments. As a result, the river starts to overflow, and the embankments in place often fail to restrict the flow of the river. When these embankments fail, riverine agricultural land is lost in erosion, which further impacts the rural and agricultural economy.