Villages vanish under Assam’s flooded rivers

Morigaon in Lower Assam is perhaps the worst affected with nearly 3.5 lakh people hit.

Updated - December 03, 2021 12:46 pm IST

Published - August 02, 2016 02:34 am IST - Kolkata:

Flood-affected children reach for food in Morigaon district of Assam on Sunday. PHOTO: AP

Flood-affected children reach for food in Morigaon district of Assam on Sunday. PHOTO: AP

While floods have become an annual trauma for the people of Assam, this year heavy rainfall in the upper catchment areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan and Assam has left 23 of the 35 districts of the State under water.

Though the water is receding, it is still far above the danger level in the Brahmaputra and many of its tributaries, like Bhogdoi, Janji, Purthi, and Kakodunga and at least half a dozen other rivers in Upper Assam.

A senior journalist of Jorhat, Bijoy Handique said at least 1.40 lakh people have been affected in 65 villages in Jorhat alone, while on one of the largest riverine island-districts of the world, Majuli, 1.70 lakh people are affected.

Morigaon in Lower Assam is perhaps the worst affected with nearly 3.5 lakh people hit, followed by Darrang and Goalpara, where about 1.4 lakh and 1.38 lakh people respectively are affected.

Stranded on roads

Uzefa Begum, a student of Rupohibil village in Morigaon told The Hindu on the phone that her entire village, on the edge of the river, had been washed away.

“Hundreds of people with their cattle and other livestock are now sitting on the roads, like us. At least two children have been washed away and all other villages like Hindu Basti or Betnir Char have disappeared,” said Uzefa. Some foodgrains and lentils have been distributed by the government, while a sister organisation of the Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind (JIH) provided sugar, water and flattened rice, she said.

Kashem Ali, a large farmer of the same village who used to have nearly 40 bighas (16 acres) of land about a decade ago, is now left with just eight bighas (3 acres). “The river is changing course and devouring villages. Many villages have disappeared over the last few years,” he said.

Shams Ahamed, a teacher in Guwahati who visits the area often, said it is not only villages but entire subdivisions are disappearing into the river.

“The South Salmara subdivision [formerly with Dhubri district] is literally vanishing due to erosion. The river cuts into the land mass displacing hundreds of thousands, who are ending up as refugees,” Mr. Ahmed said.

He added that the Muslims among the displaced face “an additional problem” as they are asked if they are from Bangladesh when they seek to relocate. “The flood refugees relocate to a new place, a new village… perhaps in a relative’s place. Once the flood water recedes, they find that their village has disappeared,” Mr. Ahmed said and added that the problem is growing with each flood.

The demand for a proper resettlement of these displaced persons is growing.

Authorities are running 463 relief camps and distribution centres, where almost 1.5 lakh people are sheltered, reports said.

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