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No plan to shift hill dwellers

Silchar, July 9: The district administration of Karimganj does not have any scheme or proposal to relocate the people living in the foothills of high tillas and hills, which are vulnerable to occasional landslides and cyclonic storms.

Karimganj deputy commissioner Sanjib Gohain Barua told The Telegraph that the administration has ruled out any possibility of relocating people from these places to safer habitats.

Such a scheme would involve a large outlay of funds and the new habitats for relocation still need to be discovered.

He said he was aware that the various environment lobbies often orchestrate such demands.

Barua said instead the district authorities from now on should try to make the people living in the foothills aware about the hazards of staying in such risky conditions by mounting a concerted campaign in collaboration with the public welfare NGOs about the pitfalls of living in such vulnerable places which are always “prone to landslides, rock slips and cyclones during the summer and monsoon months”.

According to the other official sources in Karimganj town, there are now about one lakh people in the district who reside in such risky habitats.

Barua said May’s landslide along the hills, which are almost shorn of the green cover because of destruction of forests, instantly killed an entire family of seven at Satkaragul hamlet, ringed on its two sides by clusters of hills.

The mishap occurred during torrential showers causing landslides that broke through the wall of a cottage, built with bamboo and a corrugated tin roof, and swamped the sleeping family. The members of the family have been identified as Lubab Uddin, 37, a landless farmhand, his wife Saina Begum, 28, and their three daughters and two sons, aged between two and eight.

The deputy commissioner said he had ordered the BDO of Patherkandi block to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the circumstances leading to their death in such a grim natural disaster. He said the ex-gratia payment with an upper ceiling of Rs 1.5 lakh would be extended to the next of kin of the dead.