NORTH LAKHIMPUR, June 12 � Jiu Ram Borah, a 70-year-old farmer of Jamugurighat under the Bihpuria Revenue Circle in Lakhimpur district, faintly remembers the construction of a 4.76-km embankment at Jamuguri-Karoi six decades ago. He recalled that hundreds of labourers worked round the clock to construct the embankment along the Brahmaputra river in 1951-52 following the devastating earthquake of 1950 which had raised the river bed of the mighty river, causing floods in his village and the nearby areas.
The embankment saved the area in the following years, but Borah has not seen any repairs and maintenance works undertaken in respect of the six-decade-old embankment. With the arrival of monsoon, he is worried that the Brahmaputra may breach the Jamuguri-Karoi embankment and cause floods in his village. It is the same story in several riverine villages across Lakhimpur district as the residents express concern over the old embankments whose utility has expired almost a quarter of a century back.
According to the standards of the State Water Resources Department, the lifespan of a river embankment is 25 years. After that, the embankments have to be repaired and reconstructed for further effectiveness and sustainability. However, as in other places of Assam, the river embankments in Lakhimpur district, built for flood control, have crossed their lifespan long back.
The Lakhimpur district has 33 embankments running a length of 292.319 km for the protection of various areas. Out of these 33 embankments, the lifespan of 30 embankments in the district has already expired. For example, the 28.95-km Bodoti-Jamuguri embankment off the Brahmaputra was constructed in 1955-59; the Bhimporaghat embankment off the Subansiri river was constructed in 1954-55, the 28.1-km Aamtola embankment off the Ranganadi river was constructed in 1951-52, and the Dejoo-Pohumora embankment at Kharkati and Kharkati-Pokoniyaghat off the same river was constructed in 1957-58. Similarly, the embankment at Harmutty-Dohghoria on the banks of the Dikrong river was constructed in 1955 and that of Bihpuria Town Protection in 1967 and another on the other side in the same year.
Embankments along rivers like Deergha, Kakoi and Pichala in Lakhimpur district were built before 1953. Embankments along the small rivers in and around North Lakhimpur town � Gariyajaan, Somdiri and Hatiloong � were constructed between 1948 and 1953. Six embankments were constructed off the Dikring, Bogeenadi, Singra and Pabho rivers in the period between 1955 and 1970.
According to the District Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan (2012-2013), seven embankments of Lakhimpur district have been identified as weak and vulnerable in the flood-prone areas. They are the bank/dyke from Badati to Jamuguri at Kachikata and Nunibari area under the Narayanpur and Bihpuria Revenue Circle, the Subansiri right-hand bank embankment at Bhimpara Ghat to Na-Ali village under Telahi and Lakhimpur mouza, the Ranganadi right-hand bank embankment from Dejoo to Pahumara under the Naoboicha Revenue Circle area, the Durpang bank embankment 7 km on the left bank and 7 km on the right bank under the Narayanpur Revenue Circle, the Pichola left-hand bank embankment at 5th and 6th km at Sessa under the Narayanpur Revenue Circle Area, the Dikrong right-hand bank embankment at Ch 300 metres to 610 metres at Madhupur under the Bihpuria Revenue Circle and the Dikrong left-hand bank embankment at Ch 26th km at Pokadol under the Bihpuria Revenue Circle.
Assam has 4,774 km of embankments and dykes constructed along the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. The 2012 monsoon saw embankments breached at 74 places, leaving over 180 people dead, affecting over 30 lakh and damaging crops on 3.28 lakh hectares of land. With the arrival of the monsoon, the outlived river embankments in Lakhimpur district have made thousands of hectares of agricultural land and human habitations vulnerable to floods and erosion.