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Assam team presses erosion alert button

Guwahati, April 20: Nagaon will be wiped out and thousands uprooted by the Brahmaputra’s rapidly changing course if erosion control measures were not initiated on a warfooting, a team of Assam legislators has warned.

The chairman of the departmentally-related standing committee on works, Robin Bordoloi, said a meeting of senior officials of the PWD and water resources department will be convened around mid-May to discuss ways to arrest the erosion.

“Before that, the committee will write to the government to draw its attention to the impending danger. It is not that the government is not aware of it, but the situation has to be tackled more seriously with help from the Centre,” a member of the team said.

Eight MLAs of the departmentally-related standing committee on works yesterday visited the area where the Brahmaputra has begun tilting southwards towards Kaliabor, swallowing large chunks of land on its way.

Besides Bordoloi, Pradip Hazarika, Keshav Mahanta, Nurul Hussain, Joseph Toppo, Binod Gowala, Ranjit Dutta and Thaneswar Basumatary are the other members of the team.

The legislators found that the river is now just 500 metres away from the bank settlement in Gakhitre Khati-Bihbuji, which has a population of about 20,000.

If the erosion is not contained, the river may soon wipe out the embankment separating Kollong that runs through Nagaon and Morigaon.

Experts and residents believe that Brahmaputra’s change in course has been caused the Koliabhomora bridge connecting Nagaon and Tezpur. The bridge, they say, has impeded the natural flow of the river.

Preliminary findings suggest that the embankment in Silghat need to be strengthened. “Long-term measures are required to check erosion, which is also affecting the nearby Kaziranga National Park. We have had visits by politicians earlier too, but nothing concrete has materialised. They come, sympathise, and go not to be heard again. Hope things will be different this time round,” a resident said.

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