| Bindhtoli residents stage a protest on Wednesday. Picture by Amit Kumar |
The residents of Bindhtoli diara in the district have forced the water resource department to stop removing sand deposits in the river, fearing the action might threaten their existence.
Along with the Inland Waterways Authority, officials of the water resources department had on Tuesday night sent two dozers to Bindhtoli to remove the deposits and save the damaged embankments along the northern course of the river towards Naugachia.
However, the residents of Bindhtoli opposed the action and claimed that removal of the sand deposits would eventually divert the course of the Ganga. Hundreds of them came out of their homes and staged a demonstration, compelling the water resources department officials to stop the work.
“We were shocked to find the dozers in our area. If the river changes its course because of the removal of the sand deposits, more than 40,000 people living in the eastern part of the Shankerpur Choubaniya diara falling under Nathnagar block would be in danger,” said Ramdev Mandal, 55, a small-time farmer.
“The water resources department is not bothered about the people living in the diara areas. The river will wash away our villages if it changes course. The fertile cultivated lands of the villagers of 10 mouzas (revenue villages) would be lost,” said Anadi Mandal, a resident of Mohonpur diara.
Water resources department superintendent engineer Devendra Kumar said: “We had started dredging the 14-km stretch of river bed passing through the area following a decision of our minister, Vijay Kumar Choudhary. The work had started near Buranath temple and Bishanpur.”
The residents of Shankerpur have decided to knock on the doors of the authorities concerned to prevent the dredging in the diara areas.
“About 60 years ago, the Ganga used to flow through the area from the side of Buranath Ghat and it was the natural course of the river. The Ganga usually shifts its course in an interval of 70-75 years. However, the water resources department is trying to change the course of the river with help of machines. This might spell a doom for us,” alleged Shambu Mandal, an elderly resident of Shankerpur.