GUWAHATI, May 10 - At a time when the Assam Government is fighting the coronavirus pandemic, it will have to get ready to face the fury of floods and the major worry this time will be setting up of relief camps for affected people by maintaining social distancing to prevent spike in the COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, people of Assam who will return to India from abroad will have to stay in quarantine facilities in the places where they land before they are allowed to proceed to the State.
State Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna told The Assam Tribune that the Government would chalk out detailed strategies to deal with floods as adequate care would have to be taken while providing shelter to the people affected by natural calamities. He said that a meeting involving all concerned including the Water Resources Department, Revenue Department, Assam State Disaster Management Authority, State and National Disaster Response Forces, Army etc would be held within a week to chalk out an action plan to deal with floods.
Sources in the State Disaster Management Authority also admitted that this year, relief camps and shelter places would have to be set up in a well planned manner to prevent spreading of COVID 19. Sources said that guidelines have already been sent to the Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers in this regard and a detailed standard operating procedure is being prepared, which would be circulated within the next few days.
Sources said normally all relief camps are overcrowded, while some people also take shelter on the embankments. But if any person is affected by COVID-19 in one particular camp, the possibility of other inmates getting affected cannot be ruled out. Under the circumstances, the number of camps may increase substantially and the DCs and SDOs would have to identify camps well in advance and chalk out a plan to shift the affected people to such camps.
Meanwhile, commenting on the issue of bringing back people of Assam stranded abroad, the Chief Secretary pointed out that the Government of India has already started the process of flying such people back to India. About 1700 persons from Assam stranded in different countries have applied through Indian embassies in those countries to return home. But such people will have to stay in quarantine facilities in the places where they land before they are permitted to return to the State.
The Chief Secretary also said that a number of foreign tourists were stranded in Assam when the lockdown started and all of them have left. The Government provided them passes to proceed to the states from where they could avail the special flights operated by their respective countries to return home. The last foreign tourist to leave Assam was a Greek lady stranded in Majuli, he added.