As per the platetectonics, Assam is in the eastern-most projection of the Indian Plate, where the plate is thrusting underneath the Eurasian Plate creating a subduction zone and the Himalayas. This led the state of Assam fall under the seismic zone V making the entire State prone to earthquake of moderate to very high intensity. The State has experienced two major earthquakes in the year 1897 and 1950. The intensities of these two earthquakes were 8.7 and 8.5 on the Richter scales respectively.
Combined with this hazard, is the vulnerability profile of the towns and cities where the growth is haphazard and uncontrolled. Huge urban population combined with poor quality and ill-maintained infrastructure, low quality building stock, and lower resilience of the high–density society increases the risks to earthquakes in the urban centres. Moreover, urban infrastructure is often designed and constructed without satisfying minimum safety standards.
All the rivers in Assam are liable to floods, mainly because they receive heavy rainfall within a short time. These rivers are in their early stage of maturity and are very active agents of erosion. The riverwaters collect a tremendous amount of silt and other debris and raise the level of the river beds. Therefore, it becomes impossible for the main channel to cope with the vast volume of water received during the rains.
The approach of the South West Tropical Monsoon is usually marked by strong winds, overcast skies accompanied by occasional thundershowers, hailstorms and at times by cyclones between April and May. Thunderstorms known as Bordoicila are frequent during the afternoons. Heavy downpour starts from June. At times these cyclones are devastating bringing colossal loss of human lives and damage to property.
Continued deforestation and demand for more and more agricultural land has also led to the destabilization of hill slopes which during the monsoons come down as landslides.
In the recent past Guwahati city has witnessed a number of devastating landslides in its hilly belt. This is mainly because of inadequate urban land-use planning and the demand for land becomes such that communities build houses in areas which are environmentally unstable with risks of landslides.
Every year flooding and riverbank erosion cause devastating impacts. Riverbank erosion is a serious problem in Assam leading to displacement of people due to the disappearance of villages year after year. Total area eroded from 1954 till date is approximately 386476 Hectares which means that about 7% of the land in the state's 17 riverine districts has been lost due to river erosion in the last 50 years.
Vulnerability to natural disasters combined with socio-economic vulnerability of the people living in the state pose a great challenge to the government machinery and underscores the need for a comprehensive plan for disaster preparedness and mitigation.
Assam, is in fact one of the poorest State with approximately 36% of the population living below poverty line. The state also lags behind in many other development indicators. Several factors are responsible, including poor infrastructure, remoteness, and inability to minimize the impacts of damages and loss of productivity from frequent flooding & other natural calamities. In the urban areas, due to rapid urbanization,demand for land becomes such that communities build houses in areas which are environmentally unstable with risks of landslides, flashfloods and cave-ins. Huge urban population combined with poor quality and ill-maintained infrastructure, low quality building stock, and lower resilience of the high-density society also increases the risks in the urban centres.