DERGAON, Jan 12 � People from different walks of life across the State may be making hectic preparations to celebrate Bhogali Bihu with fanfare and gaiety, but for the erosion-hit people who have been taking shelter on the Negheriting-Bankual embankment for the last several years, the word �Bihu� seems to have no special meaning.
Of course, one cannot blame them because fate has been very cruel to them, deprivng them of even their basic daily needs. These unlucky homeless ones whose number would be several thousand, have been taking shelter on the Negheriting-Bankual embankment after their villages like Barbali and Bhalakuguri on the northern part of Mahura mouza in Golaghat district and Ahatguri in Majuli near Dergaon, were completely washed away by the river Brahmaputra in 1988 and in subsequent years.
Every single day � Bihu or no Bihu � is a day of struggle for these people. But it is a matter of serious concern that even their children have been deprived of their basic right to live a decent life. No doubt, some lucky families among them have managed to settle in other places. But the extremely poor families seem destined to spend the rest of their lives on the embankment. Festivals have become totally meaningless for them.
The government is also allegedly indifferent in this matter. No step has yet been taken by it for rehabilitation of the embankment dwellers. This has worsened their condition. �We were born only to face the problems of life. Nature also meted out severe punishment to us,� rued Arup Saikia, one of the unlucky embankment dwellers. According to homeless Manik Bora, the government is totally blind to the untold miseries of the people on the embankment. The political leaders come to them only to seek votes.
Meanwhile, Dergaon-based nature organisation Aashray has demanded of the government to take effective steps to rehabilitate the homeless people without any delay.