| Vehicles ply on a road in Majuli, kicking up a cloud of dust. Telegraph picture |
Jorhat, Feb. 12: Strange as it may sound but flood-hit residents of Majuli now cry for a drop of rain, as the island has turned into a veritable sandy desert.
“Sandstorms have become a common feature and people have started to fall sick because of the blanket of dust, which has covered the island since the past few weeks,” Pranjal Saikia, a resident of Kamalabari, said.
Saikia said such has been the situation that the islanders were planning to organise bhekuli bia (frog marriage) to appease the rain god.
It is a common belief in rural Assam that when a frog marriage is performed, the rain god is pleased and it rains.
“If there is no rain for the next few days we will have to perform a frog marriage,” he said.
Along with the rest of Upper Assam, the island has received very little rainfall since the past few months, which, according to meteorologists is not normal.
“This part of Assam has witnessed only 0.6 mm rainfall on December 20. There was no rain in the month of November and hardly a few drops in January,” a meteorologist at the Assam Agricultural University here said.
He said usually, this part of the state receives 19mm and 36mm rainfall during January and February, respectively.
Majuli subdivisional officer Laya Madduri said, “Dust indeed has become a problem in the island, as the weather has been dry. It’s the soil structure that has created the dusty environment,” she said.
The island had witnessed the worst floods in recent times during last summer, as continuous rain had forced the water level to rise in the Brahmaputra, inundating vast areas.
The river had also breached embankments in several areas flooding more than 80 per cent of the island.
A large number of the islanders were also rendered homeless. The situation, however, is completely different today.
“The river had receded and the sandy soil that came along with the flood waters is responsible for the dusty condition,” another villager said.
He said the situation near the riverbank was even worse, as there was strong wind laden with sand.
“People have to cover their faces with a scarf to brave the sandy wind,” he said, adding that the vehicles, which ply to the ferry ghat to carry passengers and goods regularly, have been adding to the dusty conditions near the ghat.