In these series of photographs, Akash Basumatari, a film-maker, and photographer based out of Assam captures this lived reality of the people in Matia and Simlitola areas of the Goalpara district.
Torrential rains, this monsoon like every other has worsened the flood situation in Assam. This year already around 1.1 million people have been affected in 23 districts and the fatalities due to flood this year has gone up to 24 and counting. While the state administration is doing its best to tackle the situation, locals of villages near the rivers are being moved to safer places as their villages are being inundated by flood waters. Soon the public cry will be about the ineffectual bureaucracy and aid programs on the ground as lakhs of rupees will be once again spent and pocketed.
māti is a short documentary film (22 minutes) that attempts to understand this annual cycle. This film is in Assamese and English (with subtitles in English) and remains institutionally unfunded, made in partnership with the local communities by the river.
The problem of flood in Assam is heading towards a change in character, making the problem much graver and insoluble. This is not sudden but we have been noticing flashes of this change for the last decade. The fact that many rivers in Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts have been shallowed by sand, that the paddy fields have been entombed in sand, that there is deposition of sand instead of alluvium during flood, that there is no fish and wood in the flood waters meaning that the graveness of the problem is heading towards a cataclysm. Flood in Assam is no longer a problem, it has become a catastrophe instead.
This year, 25 districts and more than 32 lakh of people have been affected by flood and over hundred people have lost their lives. However, the issue unfortunately and unsurprisingly fails to grab the national limelight. In the national dailies, this issue only finds a neglected corner.
While village after village was being lost to the mighty Brahmaputra, officials in Delhi were more concerned with the man made flood in Gurugram – a result of just bad unplanned urbanization. Dirty sewage water reaching the affluent and the expatriates are definitely Prime Time news worthy unlike the flood in Assam which is seen as a part of life of the people languishing in tents and relief camps.