Rising Flood Concerns in Lower Assam: The Kurichu Dam Controversy


Like every year, As monsoon rains lash Assam, the state grapples with rising floodwaters. In recent years, the flood situation in Lower Assam has reached critical levels, with significant areas like Baksa, Bajali and Chirang bearing the brunt of rising waters. Media reports attribute these worsening conditions to water released from Bhutan’s Kurichu Dam, exacerbating the swelling of the Beki, Mora-Pagladia, Kaldia and Pahumara Rivers.The Assam State Government has issued multiple alerts to the public following water releases from the Dam. Local authorities have frequently highlighted the direct correlation between these releases and the deteriorating flood conditions in Lower Assam.

In a recent interview with The Guwahati, Dawa Penjor, General Secretary of the Bhutan India Friendship Association, refuted the claims linking Assam’s floods to Bhutan’s dam water releases. Penjor said “Kurichu dam is situated over 200 Kilometers from the India-Bhutan Border.” “Any excessive water release would impact Bhutan first,” he added. He acknowledged that natural flooding from Bhutan’s hills into Assam is a reality . He also said that no formal complaints or recent memoranda have been received from Assam regarding this issue.Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, speaking at Assam House last year, disclosed that the Assam Government had urged Bhutan to release dam water in a ‘controlled way’ during the morning hours rather than at night. This request aims to mitigate the flood impact on Assam’s vulnerable regions. Despite these ongoing issues, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has yet to confirm any formal discussions or resolutions between the two countries regarding flood management. Our team reached out to the ministry for comments but has not yet received a reply.

The hydropower cooperation between India and Bhutan has a long history, beginning with the Jaldhaka agreement in 1961. This collaboration has led to several significant projects funded by both Nations. However, the issue of flood management remains a contentious point, highlighting the need for further dialogue and strategic planning to protect affected communities in Lower Assam.

As the monsoon season progresses, the people of Lower Assam continue to watch the water levels with apprehension, hoping for effective measures and cooperation between India and Bhutan to alleviate their plight.

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