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More than 1,000 people displaced, two dead as erosion plays havoc in Goalpara, Assam

By TwoCircles.net Staff Reporter

Monsoons are in full swing in a number of states of the country, especially the North East. And unfortunately, like every year, this year too Assam has been deeply affected by floods and erosions, with over 1 lakh people stuck in flood-like situation.

Districts across the state, from Goalpara and Chirang to Karimganj in Lower Assam have been hit by floods. According to data available with the Indian Meteorological Department, just Chirang received more than 100 mm of rainfall on June 13. However, Goalpara and its surrounding villages have been worst affected. The residents of an entire village, Baladmari,  had to leave their homes as the entire land in the village was lost to erosion to the waters of Brahmaputra. As per the latest information, close to 200 homes were lost to the erosion and more than 1,000 people, almost all of them Muslims, have had to move to the nearby forest land for safety.

According to Abdul Kalam Azad of Jhai Foundation, an NGO that works with underprivileged sections of the society, the erosion has been a common cause of havoc in these regions over the past decade.  In fact, more than flooding, it is the erosion that has been the biggest bane for the locals. “There have been attempts to curtail erosion by using sand bags in Upper Assam, but they have been of little help,” he added.

Ahammad Madani, the district head of Chatra Mukti Sangram Samiti, said that the families are yet to receive any help from the government. “The families have been living makeshift camps for nearly a week. Two people died in these camps after they were unable to get any kind of medical facilities, but even now the local administration has not taken any action,” he added.

It is important to point out that Assam, and especially Goalpara, have been battered with floods in the past decade but for many, erosion is a far bigger issue. Brahmaputra and Beki rivers have caused havoc in the regions of Goalpara, Chirang, Barpeta and Dhubri.

According to a study sponsored by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the Brahmaputra eroded 388 sq km of land in the state between 1997 and 2008. According to the state government, Assam has lost more than 4.27 lakh hectares (7.4% of its area) to erosion by the Brahmaputra and its tributaries since 1950. That has made the Brahmaputra among the widest rivers in the world, and in areas like Barpeta for example, villagers say the river which was nearly 10 kms away now flows right at the edge of their village, continuously eroding land. Last year, TwoCircles.net had visited the constituency of Jania where erosion had resulted in people being displaced more than five times.