Context – Significance of Assam Floods for Kaziranga Ecosystem
During the recent spells of heavy rainfalls, Assam experienced heavy floods which led to a great loss of life & property, displacement of people & animals and also overall loss to the natural environment. These floods also caused inundation of about 80% of the area of the Kaziranga National Park, which houses the great Indian one horned – rhinoceros.
What Caused the Floods?
- Poor flood Management – Assam’s flood management depends heavily on the river embankments, whereas, the poorly constructed and poorly maintained river embankments do not find themselves able to contain the heavy waterflow of the rivers during the up – flow seasons. Assam’s river embankments are now over half a century old and due to this many of these embankments have outlived their normal life span.
- Deforestation – as in the other parts of the country, the river catchment areas in the north -eastern state of India i.e. Assam, has also experienced rampant deforestation in the catchment areas of the rivers. This has reduced the coping capacity of rivers and natural flooding of river banks is more intense now.
- Erratic Rainfalls – in the recent decades, climate change has made natural phenomena more severe and intense, this has also contributed in causing disturbance in the natural season cycle of many places.
About Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park is situated in Nagaon district of Assam, India. It is a world heritage site. The National Park is home to about 2/3rd of the world’s great one – horned rhinoceros, thus it is a natural home of Indian rhinoceros. In the year 2006, the area was also declared a Tiger Reserve. Combinedly the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) is situated between the river Brahmaputra and Karbi Anglong Hills.
Are Floods Important for the Ecosystem of Kaziranga? – Significance of Assam Floods for Kaziranga Ecosystem
Kaziranga is a riverine ecosystem. Kaziranga’s entire area is formed due to the deposition of alluvial deposits of the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries. Thus, experts believe that flood are necessary for the ecosystem of Kaziranga.
It is believed that rivers/ floods help in replenishing water bodies of the park and its diverse flora and fauna. Flood water provides natural grounds for growth of fish. From here, fish also reach into the river Brahmaputra, thereby, replenishing fish stock of the river. Besides, this water helps in preventing the growth of unwanted plants such as water hyacinth.
Then Why Floods are Cause of Worries?
- Frequency of floods – with the factors such as climate change, deforestation etc. the frequency of the floods has increased now. Earlier, the frequency of flood was once in a decade, which now has become a biennial phenomenon.
- Conflict with animals – during the flooding events animals leave their natural habitat and come in close contact with people of the nearby area. This causes increased instances of human – animal conflicts.
- Increased poaching – during flooding events, animals become highly vulnerable and, thus, prone to poaching.
- Deaths of animals in road accidents – due to floods, animals seek higher ground and, in this process, they try to reach grounds in he Karbi Anglong Hills. In the process they have to cross NH-37, which runs across the park. During the passage, animal deaths occur in road accidents.
What Authorities are Doing?
People are being sensitized to create awareness against poaching of animals. To protect the animals from being killed in the road accidents along the NH-37, authorities impose sec. 144 of CrPC, put barricades etc. in the event of floods.
In order to predict floods and make necessary arrangements, water level in the Brahmaputra’s tributaries is taken in Arunachal Pradesh and data is obtained from the Central Water Commission.
However, the need for making investment in the durable embankment; increasing afforestation, and securing animal corridors still persists.