River erosion and flood in Assam

    River erosion and flood are two root causes of backwardness of inhabitants of lower Assam.

    By Shahnoor Rahman for TwoCircles.net,

    To be fair to to the government and its several agencies, it often tries to analyse and find solutions to problems that affect larger population with urgent and permanent remedies. However, there is one problem which is root cause of all other problems causing severe backwardness of whole of lower Assam which can also be called as silent but mightiest dragon engulfing socio-economic pillar of poor innocent people of lower Assam. By breaking their spines not only once, but several times in their lifetime, making them all time beggars and are being laughed as ‘Bangladeshi Miya’ when they go to nearest town/city with only old Lungi, Tupi and Kurta to sell themselves as world’s cheapest labourers, who are crushed by everyone and used by everyone are the victims of ‘river erosion and flood’.

    A ferry across the stream of river cost an individual Rs 2 and is the only mean of communication with the world.

    Dear valued readers, I am going to tell you a story today which is about my own native place. I also suffered one day, but luckily Almighty saved me as we could shift our home as my father was a government high school teacher. As we were being crushed repeatedly by mighty Beki river, one of the right bank tributaries of Brahmaputra River. I am going to write this sad story feeling the amount of pain my previous neighbours are feeling who could not afford to shift their home from that hell spot. Actually it is not a story, but it is very painful harsh reality of people who had been suffering unlimitedly because of river erosion by river Beki, a tributary of mighty Brahmaputra originating from Manas traced from Mathanguri, cutting across Barpeta district. Peculier feature of this Beki river is that this river is always curved (beka), so her name is Beki and changes its direction in each summer season to take new curvy route. Perhaps, she loves to renew its courses in each new season. Problems of river erosion caused by this river are supplemented by flood, which takes away almost all ripe rice and all other mature crop plantation. This river is very gentle and beautiful in winter, but becomes very violent and destructive as the monsoon sets in. It takes away at least 500 Bigha areas per year in western part of Barpeta district and makes it part of the river. Ultimately converting them to riverine sandune (char) after a gap of 30-50 years, killing economies of around 1000 families per year who are owners of this eroded lands. Nobody except those who have really suffered can guess what could be the height and intensity of these problems and statuses of those poor downtrodden people whose everything have been looted by this demon river Beki which is nicknamed as sorrow of Barpeta district. These poor people after losing everything face a series of economic, mental and psychological trauma, they become victims of every worst conditions and hardships of life. They neither have any money to buy land and food to save life. Health and education become distant dreams for them to fulfil. Modern amenities of life are simply imaginary for them. They don’t get any help from anyone, but political parties do best to use them by drawing their votes in their favours promising their remedies. They are often left with no other option than becoming beggars, settling somewhere in newly arisen riverine islands compromising everything in their lives.

    Seeing no way out to find two seqaures meal a day, if they decide to move towards cities in Guwahati, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia etc in search of job as underpaid unskilled labourer working 18-20 hours a day without provision of any basic amenities of life, they are tagged as Bangladeshis and harassed endlessly.

    Their only fault for suffering is that they are born in those particular misfortunate areas where there is no road, no medical facilities, no transport facilities and no educational institutions except few deformed one/two L.P. Schools over an area of 100 sq km areas. In addition to river Beki, lower Assam is also prone for damage caused by river Brahmaputra and Manas. So, we can estimate now that river erosion and flood is the root of severe socio-economic backwardness of lower Assam.

    The main road of Kuntisar village, a Char across Dhubri town, from the river bank.

    But a very sad part is that this problem is age old problem since the British time, but history cannot trace any evidence that ever any government, any NGOs or any agency have tried to find permanent solution to this root cause of all problems. Government has not yet given any rehabilitation to the inhabitants of these hell spots who are equally sons and daughters of mother Assam and contributing maximum part of domestic products of Assam like eggs, chicken, fish, muttons, bamboo goods, cereals, pulses and vegetables.

    It’s the high time that we must also feel the pain of these people and pressurise the government to implement new technologies to solve the problems permanently and declare displaced people as ‘internally displaced’ and implement schemes for their welfare.

    (Shahnoor Rahman is a MBBS final year student at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, Guwahati and can be contacted at [email protected])


    TCN ground reports on life and condition in Chars:

    Heart of Darkness! – I

    Heart of Darkness! – II