The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Farakka barrage gifts disaster to Sahebganj

Dumka, Oct. 12: Farakka barrage, situated some kilometres away from Sahebganj in Jharkhand across the Ganga, has compounded land erosion problems in the Rajmahal sub-division.

This time, Budhbaria and Sarkanda localities under Rajmahal sub-division had to bear the brunt of erosion. On October 10, sweeping currents inundated half of Sarkanda middle school along with some houses located on the river bank at Budhbaria, rendering several families homeless. Huge chunks of earth broke away from the banks as the school children watched in horror.

With it, the number of villages eaten up by the Ganga over the past three years has reached 17.

Shanker Malakar, the president of Gram Shikshak Samity, said the incident happened around 11am when 600 students were attending classes in the middle school.

The newly-constructed Anandadai Bhawan of the school disappeared under the river bed after huge chunks of earth were broken away by the river, he added. Similarly, the river earlier had devoured many villages located under Rajmahal sub-division, including hamlets located on diara (island of the river) in Sahebganj district.

According to irrigation engineers in the district, rise in the water level of the river over the past 72 hours caused the incident. They were worried as Ganga was flowing hardly 50-70m from NH-80 (connecting Mokama-Bhagalpur-Sahebganj) near Sarkanda to Mangahat in Rajmahal, causing a potent threat.

The engineers, however, alleged that the course of the river, which entered the locality after cutting through a distance of more than 25-30km within the last 20 years, has changed mainly after construction of Farakka barrage some 40km away Sahebganj.

A report recently published by the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, for the Union ministry of development and environment had already echoed the concerns of the engineers of Sahebganj.

The report stated those who conceived and designed the barrage miscalculated the arithmetic of Ganga. The extra water flow induced by the barrage downstream has not been able to prevent the steady accumulation of sediment.

“The report blamed the Bengal government for taking inadequate measures to control the erosion in Malda district. But not a single erosion control measure has so far been decided by the state governments for the entire stretches of Sahebganj along with parts of Bihar’s Bhagalpur district,” the engineers pointed out.

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