| A launch cruises over the spot where the village of Jotpatta used to be till Saturday. Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, July 29: The Ganga has gobbled up an entire village in Manikchak and is threatening to do the same to seven more villages in the area, putting at risk around 5,000 people.
The villagers said the river has veered at least 500m from its original course.
Eight shops and 35 houses, including pucca structures, in Jotpatta village have disappeared into the swirling waters in the past 24 hours, a source in the district administration said. The other houses have suffered damages.
The village, 30km from here, is home to 250 families, who have taken shelter in a mango orchard, around 1km from the river.
A district irrigation department official said the water level of the Ganga is still rising and a yellow alert has been sounded in the area.
The Farakka Barrage Authorities have started strengthening the embankment using boulders and bamboo.
Near Jotpatta this morning, people were seen huddled in the orchard, clutching their belongings.
“It was around 1am today when we heard the sound of huge chunks of earth tumbling into the river. We immediately made off for safer places. As there is no proper road here, transporting our belongings was very difficult,” said Gita Mondal, a villager.
Manikchak gram panchayat pradhan Krishna Mondal said the district administration had taken no steps to strengthen the embankment despite being warned about the impending danger. “A 5km stretch of the riverbank has been eroding since last night,” he said. Barrage authorities, on their part, blamed lack of funds for the delay in repairing the embankment.
Angry villagers confronted Manikchak block development officer Sandip Nag when he visited Jotpatta today. Nag said relief would be despatched to the area soon.
Manikchak is located around 25km upstream from Panchanandapur, which has borne the brunt of Ganga’s erosion in the past six-seven years.