Located in a hilly terrain with a small portion of valley, Manipur faces regular hazard of floods and flash floods during monsoon. Floods are the major geo-hazard in many areas of the Imphal valley causing loss of life and destruction of agricultural land and property
Manipur is confronting what could be the worst floods it has experienced in three decades. According to the inhabitants, the state suffered the worst floods in 200 years, in which an estimated one lakh people have been affected. Since the onset of Southwest Monsoon, Manipur received good rains that became heavy in two days. These rains occurred in view of the depression which was over the Bay of Bengal further crossing the Bangladesh coast. For nearly about three days of non- stop rains, it flooded almost all parts of Manipur valley and caused landslide at many parts of districts. The relentless rain flooded low laying areas of the valley districts including state capital Imphal. Flood water overflowed and breached at many parts of the river banks of the major rivers like Nambul, Iril and Imphal Rivers. Flash floods are common in Manipur, but the magnitude that hit the state left thousands homeless and crops lost on vast cover of land.
Various low-lying areas in Imphal valley were flooded owing to relentless rainfall. The entire Imphal Valley, which includes 40 of the state’s 60 Assembly constituencies, was under floodwaters, resulting in large-scale displacement of people. Constant rainfall breached the banks of rivers in different parts of the valley, including a breach at Checkon and Kongba of Imphal River, that flow in the districts of Imphal West and Imphal East left several low-lying areas in Imphal East, Imphal West, Thoubal and Bishenpur districts flooded.
Due to Flood, disaster management department declared alert of floods and landslides with the prediction of heavy to very heavy rain at few places with extremely heavy rain at some isolated places of Manipur. In the wake of the floods, electricity services were affected. Many government offices, schools and human inhabited areas in Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur and Thoubal Districts were inundated by the flood water. The General Administration Department announced a holiday for all government offices and educational institutions including public sector undertakings, corporations and autonomous bodies due to the severe weather conditions. However, the police department, fire service, water resource, health and family welfare departments and hospitals, revenue department, PWD, PHED, municipalities, deputy commissioners and SDOs offices were not included.
Nambul River, which runs across the middle of Imphal city, overflowed at many places along the Uripok-Kangchup stretch, inundating many localities at Naoremthong, Shamusang and Iroisemba. Many low-lying areas in the capital, such as Kwakeithel, Wangkhei, Sagolband, Checkon, Uripok, Lamphel and Kwakwa, were flooded due to blocked drainage systems. While capital Imphal was cut off from Moreh on the Indo-Myanmar border, continuous downpour triggered a landslide in the hill districts and normal vehicular movement along the Imphal-Jiribam section of NH-37 was also disturbed after damages were caused to a bridge on Barak River. Imphal-Jiribam road connects Manipur with southern Assam’s Barak Valley, near Kotlen in Noney district and it is one of the two lifelines of Manipur. Nearly a 50-metre stretch of the national highway was blocked by debris that brought down by the landslide between Sinam village and Laijang near milestone no. 35. Also some other parts of the state remained disconnected with roads and bridges washed away by flood waters. Some hill districts were also badly affected by landslides. In Manipur, a mudslide rendered the busy Churachandpur-Henglep road dangerous to ply on, and cut off most villages in Pherzawl district. Vehicle movement along the Imphal-Ukhrul was affected following landslides between Mahadev and Litan area. With landslides reported in other parts of the highway, goods and other vehicles moving to Imphal from Dimapur got stranded.
The All India Radio (AIR) was submerged, resulting in the suspension of the services. Even the Raj Bhavan entry road, Raj Bhavan Garden area as well as parking area were also flooded. Palace compound, a major cultural location here was flooded. Most of the streets in Imphal, educational institutions and large residential areas, including VIP colonies housing the chief secretary of Manipur, DGP Manipur and other top bureaucrats, under Imphal East district, agricultural lands and fish farms were affected. Roads below the Bir Tikendrajit flyover in the middle of Khwairamband keithel and the iconic Mothers’ market were also flooded as there is no way out to drain the flooding water .According to Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD), most of the valley districts, particularly Imphal east, were largely affected. Attributing the flood situation to incessant rainfall in catchment areas, the department recorded 147 mm of rainfall in Jiribam, 75 mm in Kangpokpi and 47 mm in Saikul (catchment areas). Several farmlands were also inundated. Thoubal District, known as the state’s rice bowl, remained under water.
According to the report of relief and disaster management department, the intensity of flooding increased at Thoubal and Imphal West districts. Around 1.8 lakh people have been estimated to be affected by the flash floods in Manipur. As of the state government report, about 22,624 houses have been damaged by the flood waters and landslides and 5,200 people moved out of the area. At least 15,100 people have been provided shelter at 101 relief camps and authorities were ensured essential supplies. It also stated that 48 new relief camps would be set up across the state to suffice the efforts to rehabilitate and provide medical assistance to the victims. The state government also announced ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin who lost their lives.
The state disaster response force and the state police, with assistance from the Indian Army and the Assam Rifles, actively undertook relief and rescue operations. Relief and rescue operations though went in progress in a number of areas, it heavily hampered by the rain. Two units of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were airlifted to Chandel by helicopter.
-Photo credit- Paul Haokip