| Raghopur residents migrate with their belongings on Wednesday. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Munilal, 67, a resident of Raghopur, was planning to repair the roof of his house but he demolished the tenement on Wednesday and shifted his belongings.
His deconstruction project was not a solitary one, though. Like Munilal, residents of the village and its vicinity, around 178km southeast of Patna, have begun to shift their belongings and break down their houses so that they can reclaim building materials like bricks, wooden beams, doors and windows from an approaching deluge.
Their fear is not unfounded. The Ganga eroded around 1.5-km-stretch of the Raghopur-Kajikoriya embankment on Tuesday night and has begun to move towards Raghopur. Around 20 houses of the village were washed away along with the embankment. Land erosion in the catchments area has also intensified.
A distressed Munilal said: “Five year ago, my house was constructed after a bumper maize harvest. But last year, the river engulfed five bigha of my ancestral land. Now, it is the turn of my house.”
Panic spread among 12,000 people who live in the village and its vicinity in the Kharik block after the embankment — repaired last year at a cost of Rs 9.5 crore — collapsed on Tuesday night.
“The main current of the river has entered our village. The entire village can disappear for ever into the river bed anytime,” said Bindeshwari Mandal, a CPI(ML) leader and villager.
He added: “More than 25 houses have been washed by the river in past week.”
Mandal said the villagers had earlier requested Parameshwari Prasad, chief of the state’s flood fighting team, to initiate dazing (removal of silt) works at the diaras located near of Rahopur embankment some. “Prasad directed the engineer concerned of the water resources department to initiate dozing work and divert the flow of the river. But nothing was done and the neglect has led to this calamitous situation,” he said.
Water resources department chief engineer Kailu Sardar was not available for comment. Nor was a single water resources department official present at Raghopur even as the people migrated. “Since major portion of the embankment have been damaged, we don’t have anything to do now,” said a junior engineer of the department on the condition of anonymity.
Naugachia sub-divisional officer Sushil Kumar said the situation was under control but the low water level of the Ganga had accelerated the erosion. “We are keeping a watch on the situation continuously,” he said.
The villagers, however, are left with no option but to move out of their homes in search of safe and high ground. “All the women and children of my family have been shifted to safe place. Now we are shifting the cattle and other house hold items,” said Alok Kumar, a villager.
Sub-divisional officer Sushil Kumar said all the displaced persons have been shifted to the government middle school, as it is located at a comparatively higher land on the outskirts of the village.