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500 homeless in Bengal as Ganga swallows land

River bank erosion at Hossainpur in Murshidabad district.  

Nearly 500 people have become homeless in the Hossainpur area of Murshidabad district due to severe river bank erosion by the Ganga. Since Wednesday, the Ganga has swallowed large swaths of land in the area, making locals to flee to the neighbouring Malda district.

Locals said the erosion started in Hossainpur in the district’s Farakka block from Wednesday night. After a temporary lull on Thursday, the river started raging again from Friday.

“So far about 100 houses have been swallowed by the Ganga, rendering nearly 500 people homeless and more than 40 houses are on the verge of collapsing into the river,” said Obaidur Rehman, a resident of the area.

While a section of the affected people have fled to Malda district, nearly half of them are living in makeshift camps. The situation has generated severe discontent among the locals against the district administration and the Farakka Barrage Project authorities.

Locals' charge

Locals alleged that the project authorities “ignored” their warnings regarding the erosion.

Denying the allegation, an official of the Anti Erosion Division of the Farakka Barrage Project said that “adequate preventive measures” have been taken to check the erosion and the situation was now under control.

“Whenever such river bank erosion takes place there is a tendency among the locals to blame us. The section of the bank which collapsed got weakened due to abnormal rise in the water level this year along with removal of soil by villagers to construct houses,” the official said.

He claimed that a section of the villagers hurled abuses at a team of Farakka Barrage Project officials when they went to the spot on Saturday to strengthen the river bank.

However, district administration officials said the “preliminary measures” taken by the project authorities were not very effective.

Confirming that about 500 people have lost their homes due to river bank erosion, a senior district administration official said they have distributed 250 trampolines among the villagers and also set up a medical camp in the area.

“We are also helping the villagers in constructing makeshift shelters,” he added.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 7:17:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/500-homeless-in-bengal-as-ganga-swallows-land/article25023544.ece

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