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Erosion puts lives at stake in Assam

In three days, the river has eroded about 1,050 square metre of agricultural land and a residential plot

By Sofikul Ahmed in Goalpara

  • Published 28.10.19, 12:14 AM
  • Updated 28.10.19, 12:14 AM
A man wades through floodwater with a cylinder at Madhab Para village near Kampur in Nagaon district on Sunday
A man wades through floodwater with a cylinder at Madhab Para village near Kampur in Nagaon district on Sunday PTI

Continuous erosion by the Brahmaputra for the past three days in lower Assam’s Goalpara town adjacent to Baladmarisar sandbars is posing a threat to the residents.

In three days, the river has eroded about 1,050 square metre of agricultural land and a residential plot.

On Sunday, residents of no. 2 Baladmarisar assembled at the erosion site and protested against the indifferent attitude of the state’s water resources department.

Following a call by villagers demanding verification, legislator A.K. Rasid Alom visited the area in the afternoon. He contacted the department’s officers and assured them that he would take remedial measures immediately. A public meeting of greater Baladmarisar has been convened by leading citizens of the area on Monday at the erosion site.

Four sandbars of Baladmarisar were eroded last year. Six educational institutions and five sacred structures, including mosques, were eroded by the Brahmaputra and thousands of villagers were displaced.

Later, the district administration temporarily shifted nearly 500 people to Moilaputa, a place on the outskirts of the town where they are still staying without proper sanitation and hygiene.

A Rs 4-crore scheme under the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) was initiated to protect the sandbars against erosion last year.

The residents of the area, however, alleged on Sunday that under the scheme, contractors of the water resources department had placed concrete porcupines at the erosion site without any planning in the absence of the department’s technical supervision.

“Most of our people are unlettered and have little knowledge about the project. They are happy if they are hired as labourers or muhuris (site managers) by the contractors. The department’s officers rarely come here. So, contractors take all decisions,” R. Islam, a local resident, said.

A local teacher, on condition of anonymity, said, “A sum of Rs 4 crore is a huge amount, but only 20 per cent work has been done at the site. As a result, Baladmarisar is facing erosion again. There must be corruption where right from contractors to politicians and department officers are involved.”

Executive engineer Siddhanta Sarma’s could not be contacted as his mobile phone was switched off.

Three phone calls to assistant executive engineer Asad Hussain went unanswered.

Erosion is a major threat to villagers in Assam who lose almost everything when their lands are gobbled up by the rivers, particularly in monsoon. 

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