Hydrocracies,Hubris and Hazardscapes,the man-made factors that lead to floods in Brahamputra.

4 October 2020.


Assam is a flood-prone state with its vast network of rivers. A comibination of natural and mad made factors have contributed to the flood-related devastation in the state.

Natural Reasons:

  • The Brahmaputra and Barak River with more than 50 numbers of tributaries feeding them, causes the flood devastation in the monsoon period each year.
  •  Assam receives river water flowing down from states like Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. These rivers flowing down from neighboring states cause flash floods.
  • The flood and erosion problem of Assam is singularly different from other states so far as extent and duration of flooding and magnitude of erosion is concerned and is probably the most acute and unique in the country.
  • Cloud bursts in the catchment areas can cause flash floods.

Anthropogenic Factors

  • Hydrocracies
  • Hubris
  • Hazardscapes


  • The river-infrastructure development projects have been on a high.
  •  Large Infrastructure projects such as Ranganadi Hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh was pushed in competition with China.
  •  Unfortunately, the region experiences dam-induced flash floods during monsoons and for the rest of the year, the river is seen as a trickle.
  • Another flood control measure being implemented in the state of Assam is “Dredging” activity in the river bed.
  • The extracted river bed material is used in construction of super highways along the banks.
  • This will also facilitate inland navigation.
  •  However, this is a superficial solution. This is because, Brahmaputra deposits highest sediment loads and thus the dredging activity will be replenished with fresh silt deposits.
  • It is humanely impossible to desilt Brahmaputra every season for its huge silt being deposited regularly as the removed silt is quickly replenished with new silt.


Construction of Embankments
  • The Embankments are structures that are built along the river to confine them and to make their flow faster.
  • This monsoon, in 2020, over 180 embankments were breached.
  • More than 450 embankments were built and repaired prior to the monsoon to prevent flooding. This happens every monsoon season.
  • In the last six decades, the Assam Government has built about 5,000 km of embankments along the river and is tributaries.


Geopolitical Containments
  • Brahmaputra is a trans boundary river. It flows through Tibet, India and Bangladesh.
  • In India, it flows through Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
  • However, the catchment area of the river extends to the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Sikkim, Meghalaya and Nagaland.
  • The impacts of the floods of Brahmaputra are studies within a Geopolitical container. This frames a reductionistic understanding and leads to fragmented analysis. An integrated study is required.

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