The eroding bank of the Fulahar river. Picture by Surajit Roy
Malda, Sept. 19: At least 15 villages with a combined population of 20,000 people in Malda district have been marooned for the past two days with the Fulahar river overflowing above the danger level because of incessant rain in the Darjeeling hills.
The isolated villages are in Harishchandrapur II and Ratua I blocks. The people’s representatives complained that the district administration had taken no measures to send relief materials to the affected people.
“The river has been overflowing for the past two days because of heavy rains in the hills. We fear the situation will worsen if there is no respite from the rain. The river banks have started eroding in places like Mianhat of Harishchandrapur and Debipur in Ratua,” said Jayprakash Pandey, the executive engineer of the Mahananda division of the state irrigation department.
The irrigation department said the Fulahar was presently flowing at 27.86 metres, which was 51cm above the danger level. The river has risen by 12cm in the past 24 hours.
Nadi Mondal, a member of Bilaimari panchayat in Ratua, said villages like Aziztola, Zakirtola, Dewanmolla, Nayabilaimari, Nakatti and Ramayanpur had been surrounded by water which had spilled over from the river.
“The villagers are living in worse conditions as road communication has been completely snapped. We have asked the block development officer to supply relief materials to the affected people, but the villages are not accessible because of the floodwaters,” said Mondal.
The situation is similar in Harishchandrapur block, where Diara, Uttar, Dakshin Bhakuria, Kawadol, Piyanjkhali and Chandpur have been surrounded by the water of Fulahar.
Sudhir Yadav, a member of Harishchandrapur panchayat samiti, said water had entered 50 houses situated in the low-lying areas at Diara.
“Those 50 families took shelter in safer places. However, the block officials are yet to send any relief to them. We have urged the block development officer to provide boats to rescue people trapped in the flooded villages. The villages have become islands with all roads being inundated,” he said.
He also said the embankment at Miahat (in Harishchandrapur) was in a vulnerable condition with the Fulahar flowing at the full rage.
Tazmul Hussain, the Forward Bloc MLA of Harishchandrapur, has slammed the administration for being allegedly lackadaisical in providing succour to the affected villagers.
“The river has risen and over 20, 000 people have already been hit. But the administration is yet to provide any help to the victims. Relief materials are not available for distribution and there are no boats to rescue the people,” said the MLA.
Nurul Islam, the additional district magistrate of Malda, denied the charge.
“We have taken all necessary steps to rescue the marooned people. The block development officers of Ratua I and Harishchandrapur II have been asked to assess the situation and submit a report. There is no dearth of relief materials,” said Islam.