TEZPUR, April 21 - Every year, at the advent of the summer season, the people of Sonitpur district, particularly those living on the banks of the tributaries of River Brahmaputra like Gabharu, Jiabharali, Dipota, Belsiri, Pachnoi, etc., have to confront the threat posed by flood and erosion caused by these rivers. Flood and erosion have been causing untold miseries to thousands of people in Sonitpur district since the past several years as these rivers have already washed away lakhs of bighas of cropland and residential plots. Meanwhile, the people living in the riverine areas of Gohpur, Biswanath, Tezpur, Barchala and Dhekiajuli LACs have expressed strong resentment over the alleged indifferent attitude of the Government and the local public representatives towards this serious issue.
Over a 100-km area has been eroded in Sonitpur district by the Brahmaputra tributaries till the last summer season. Sources revealed that during the last 15 years of the Congress rule in the State, crores of rupees have been spent in a bid to check the problem, but no positive result has come out as works relating to the repair and reconstruction of embankments as well as rehabilitation of homeless people have not allegedly been undertaken properly.
According to latest reports collected from the department concerned, a large area in Gohpur and its adjoining places has been affected by flood and erosion. Hundreds of people have been displaced and more than 300 metres of land have been eroded at Arimora Suti, Paken and Saraibahi under the Gohpur subdivision. Water Resources Department sources disclosed that more than a 2-km distance has been eroded by the Brahmaputra in the Behali-Silmari area under the Biswanath subdivision.
Similarly, a 4-km area at Panpur in Biswanath, a 5-km area from Biswanath to Solmari, and a one-and-a-half km area at Bhoojmari have been eroded. Land area measuring at least 28 km from Bhumuraguri to Jahajghat, and at Parbatia, Gabharu, Singri, Teligaon and Sitolmari under Tezpur and Barchala LACs has been eroded.
On the other hand, the Jiabharali river has eroded 12.50 km of land. Available statistics denote that a 2-km area in Bordikorai, 3-km area from Samdhora to Orang Basti, one-and-a-half km area at Singitoli, 2-km area from Dikoraijan to Kuttamora, 1-km area at Kurukani and about 3-km area have been eroded at Rajgar-Tengakhuti area due to erosion caused by the Jiabharali river. Moreover, due to the erosion caused by the Gabharu river under the Barchala LAC, a 500-metre area at Barbil, one-km area at Meghaijarani, and 700-metre area at Nabil have been eroded.
The Belsiri river under the Dhekiajuli Revenue Circle caused severe erosion in an almost 2-km distance at Keherokhunda, Besimari, Khagorijan and adjoining areas.
A local resident and ex-ABSU worker Phanidhar Basumatary said that 25 families of Uttar Khagori Jan and Nalini Duba village under the Thelamara GP and Dhekiajuli Revenue Circle have been displaced after more than 50 bighas of crop and residential land owned by them were washed away by the Belsiri river. �Due to unabated erosion, residents of these two villages have been paralyzed as the agencies concerned are yet to come forward to assist them,� Basumatary alleged.
Though erosion threatens lakhs of bighas of farming land, schools, temples, government offices and houses, the departments concerned of the State Government have not taken any proper measures to check the problem, other local residents alleged.
On the other hand, funds worth crores of rupees for the implementation of anti-erosion schemes have not been effectively utilized. Reports of rampant corruption have come to light, while there are allegations of misappropriation of an amount of Rs 167 crore for executing a geo-bag scheme. The project concerned was the Barbil-Meghaijarani embankment repair scheme to protect the greater Barbil-Meghaijarani area under the Dhekiajuli LAC. It is pertinent to mention here that a scheme of Rs 1 crore and four lakh was prepared by the Water Resource Department to save about 40 villages including Barbil, Meghaijarani, Ulubari, Ghatwa, Bamunpukhuri, Gabharupar, Patiapukhuri, etc. But there are allegations that a major part of the allotted fund has been siphoned off.
The local people are again under threat as the monsoon season has already arrived with the rise in the water level of the Gabharu river. People of the area alleged that the departments concerned, including the Water Resources Department, are yet to show any accountability. �Earlier also, a fund of Rs 7 crore was sanctioned for anti-erosion works, but only nominal work was done and the lion�s share of the fund was siphoned off by contractors who are in a nexus with officials of the departments concerned,� a local resident alleged.
It may be mentioned here that a project of Rs 30 lakh was started in the area for the construction of a canal, but the local people stopped the work, alleging poor construction.