News & Information From Northeast India

No front-page space for Assam floods in top dailies: The News Mill study

Like every year, this year too Assam – and various parts of Northeast – has faced one of the worst times in recent past, but major national dailies did not even pay a heed to the Assam floods.

“It’s the same story every single year. While the poor die due to the floods, the relief and rescue operations are never adequate. There are no any preventive measures. One wonders why the national media ignores the issue all the time,” says Pranjal Saikia, a resident of a flood-affected North Lakhimpur village.

A natural calamity of this magnitude deserves a front-page coverage, but sadly, most of the time it is found as a news capsule in the national section of the newspapers which hardly catches the attention of the readers. While a few national dailies covered the news in their national section occupying a half-page space, others did not even bother about the worst situation Assam is currently facing.

The News Mill conducted a study by analysing the New Delhi editions of 4 national dailies from July 10 to July 15, 2017. Sadly, we found that the flood-related news has got very little coverage across the top dailies.

We took The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Times of India and Hindustan Times for the study.

The Indian Express carried a story on the Assam floods on the front-page. On July 14, the newspaper did a half-page package on the floods on Page 13.

The Times of India, New Delhi edition, carried the news on their nation pages for 3 days but it never made it to the front-page of the leading newspaper.

The Hindu carried the news twice on the front-page, while rest of days they covered the news either on the national or the east section.

The Hindustan Times almost completely missed the sorrow of Northeast as they carried just a small story on Page 10 of the newspaper on July 15.

As per our study, we found that major national dailies did not even bother to carry the flood-related story of Assam on their frontpage. “If the New Delhi editions of national dailies are not honestly covering the news on their front-page then how the people concerned will know? Is this not a national emergency?” said one person from Assam who is living in New Delhi from past 10 years.

“Assam is always neglected in all possible way, be it flood-related news or general news. We are not given any space in these dailies,” said one final year student at Delhi University.

To put the figures forward, according to Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), more than 17 lakh people in 26 districts of Assam were affected besides the flood-related death toll shooting up to 60 on Sunday. At least 18 people died in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh due to rain-related calamities like landslide. Of these, four died in an Indian Air Force chopper crash which was on a rescue mission in the Papum Pare district of the state. Properties worth crores were damaged in Manipur since cyclone Mora hit the state.

Spread across 430 sq km, UNESCO world heritage site, Kaziranga National Park is 70% submerged and over 70 wild animals have died. Movements on the NH-15, which connects Assam with Arunachal Pradesh came to a halt as the national highway is partially damaged due to rising water of Ranganadi, a tributary of River Brahmaputra. According to the latest reports, around 50,000 people have taken shelter in 120 relief camps. Union minister Kiren Rijiju led a central team to take the stock of the situation on July 13, 2017.

Image Credits: Pranjal Baruah.

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