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Erosion-hit North Lakhimpur villagers seek divine intervention

By The Assam Tribune
Erosion-hit North Lakhimpur villagers seek divine intervention

Farhana Ahmed

NORTH LAKHIMPUR, April 9: The perennially flood-hit and exasperated villagers of Dhalpur-Jamuguri area here, it seems, are resigned to fate.

In a desperate bid to get rid of the imminent danger staring them in the face from the continued flood-induced river bank erosion by the Brahmaputra, they are holding a weeklong recitation of Srimad Bhagawat.

The villagers of Bonpuroi, Lotabari, Dahgharia, Chenimari, Bottomchuk, Chengelisuti, Misamari, etc., have embarked on an uninterrupted recitation (paath) of the sacred text on the bank of the Brahmaputra near the ferryghat at Jamuguri in the hope that the Almighty would show mercy and save them from the plight of the unabated river bank erosion.

Speaking to the media, an organiser of the event said they had opted for Bhagawat Paath as all other means had failed to halt the natural onslaught.

“Thus far, all our pleas, demands and requests before the powers that be have gone in vain. As we have exhausted all other options, we think only God can save us,” said the organiser.

The villagers were joined by like-minded sympathisers from the neighbouring Biswanath district, as the perennial river bank erosion has threatened to wash away the people’s land and property there as well.

It may be recalled that the Jamuguri-Bonpuroi riverine area under Narayanpur Revenue Circle of Lakhimpur district had witnessed severe flood-induced erosion in the summer of 2020, in which a major portion of the embankment in that area was damaged.

Massive erosion was caused by the Brahmaputra in No.3 check bund at Bonpuroi-Latabari village in Jamuguri despite the Bihpuria subdivisional Water Resources Department building stone spurs in the area. The department built six stone spurs in a bid to contain the erosion, but the initiative proved futile. The No.2 and No.3 check bunds on the right hand side of the river were severely damaged during the flood at that time. This was followed by massive erosion in November last year and in March this year. This prompted Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to visit the area on July 28, 2020.

It may be recalled that the Chief Minister had then announced that riverbank erosion had been categorised as a natural calamity under the 15th Finance Commission and works would begin as soon as funds meant for it were received.

During that visit, the Chief Minister had also made public the formation of the North East Water Management Authority, with Deputy Chairman of NITI Aayog as its president, to prepare a project report on the erosion problem of the region.

This was followed by a visit to the affected site of Bonpuroi-Lotabari by an inter-ministerial Central team comprising Sudhir Kumar, Director (Monitoring and Appraisal Directorate), Central Water Commission, Ministry of Jal Shakti, and Abhishek Agarwal, Assistant Executive Engineer, Ministry of Road and Transport, Govt of India, on August 28, 2020.

On October 30, Chief Minister Sonowal, while laying the foundation stone of the Rs 2.51-crore multipurpose flood protection facility in the nearby Dhunaguri under Bihpuria Revenue Circle, announced the initiation of a Rs 10.5-crore project for erosion protection work at Jamuguri. However, despite erosion in November last year and in March this year, no such work has yet been started.

This typical apathy by the State and the delays in implementing the announced projects have left the villagers with no option but to invoke divinity to save their lives and land from the ravages of the fast-flowing river.

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