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1,000 flood-hit families still living on embankment

By ANN Service

MIRZA, March 23 - More than a thousand landless families affected by flood and erosion are yet to be rehabilitated and are currently staying in makeshift houses on an embankment near Mirza.

An investigation by ANN Service found that over 1,000 such families are residing on the Palasbari-Gumi-Nagarbera embankment under Goroimari and Palasbari revenue circles in Kamrup district for more than 20 years now, after their entire land and houses were eroded by the Brahmaputra. Many of these families have been deprived of the basic amenities and government schemes meant for poor people.

It may be mentioned here that massive floods and erosion took place in Palasbari and other parts of south Kamrup after the great earthquake of 1950, when the bed of the Brahmaputra river rose. Since then, over 40 villages have disappeared from the map due to erosion by the Brahmaputra between 1954 and 2019, rendering thousands of families landless and homeless.

Villages like Dowapara, Karipara, Guimara, Chapathuri, Lakhirtari, Simina, No.1 Futuri, No.2 Futuri, Bartary, Panikhaiti, Alikash, Banipara, Biturtari, Telipara, Baghardia, Barghat, Bhokuwamari, Kondolpara, Balagaon, Sengratari, Bhurakata, Charaimari, etc., are now history after their disappearance from the map.

Several other villages like Makadhuj, Bejortari, Jarabari, Kendurtol, Guimara, Kandulimari, Satrapara, Jarabari, Dhumgara, Jahirpur, etc., have also been partly eroded and hundreds of hectares of fertile land have been washed away, breaking the backbone of the farmer families. Haser Ali, a 75-year-old from Futuri village who is now staying on the Palasbari-Gumi embankment, several thousands of families who lost their entire land and houses have shifted to safer places. Though the government has rehabilitated several hundreds of families in the past 40 years, over 1,000 families are yet to be rehabilitated.

Sahabuddin Ali, a 30-year-old from Alikash village, said �I shifted to the embankment when I was about five years old after our land and homes were eroded by the Brahmaputra. We have been living here for the last 25 years and are yet to get rehabilitated despite several pleas to the government.�

Asiya Bibi, a 45-year-old woman from Alikash village who has also been living on the embankment for the last 25 years, said �As we do not possess any land, we have not been able to avail several government schemes like houses for poor families (under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana), Individual Beneficiary Scheme, etc., as those schemes are generally allotted to families who have land of their own. My two daughters were brought up on the embankment and also got married from the embankment itself. As we don�t have any land, my two adult sons have no other options but to venture to Guwahati seeking daily work there.� She also said that the poor families have also been deprived of the subsidized rice, which cost only Rs 1 per kg.

Many heads of family, aged above 65 years who are also living on the embankment, have been deprived of old-age pension.

As far as education is concerned, the children have not been able to continue even their primary education, and dropped out of school. Many girls and boys have been working as domestic help after dropping out of school, said Abdul Mannan, a 25-year-old school dropout from Alikash.

Most of the people here are daily-wage earners. Some work as fishermen, truck labourers, some work in the sand mahals and private agricultural land, and somehow manage two square meals a day. During rainy season, it is impossible to find work, and many find it difficult to manage food for their families.

As far as healthcare facilities are concerned, many people on the embankment have died without getting treatment as they are not able to afford it. The rate of childbirth is high, and many children have been found to be suffering from malnutrition. �We approached the government many times demanding rehabilitation, but till date, no concrete action has been taken,� said Nasir Ali, a 55-year-old from Futuri village who has been living on the embankment for the past 32 years.

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