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Rehab plan for erosion-hit
Erosion-affected people take shelter in temporary huts in Dibrugarh on Sunday. Picture by Pronib Das

Dibrugarh, Sept. 12: The Assam government has drawn up a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate 40 families who have been residing at Gorpara crematorium for 10 years now, government sources today said.

Eleven other families who had lost their land will be also rehabilitated at Hatiali, 10km from Gorpara. Around two months ago, The Telegraph published a report on how villagers at Rohmoria in Upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district, who lost their land and belongings to erosion, were forced to live in sub-human conditions in a crematorium.

The report generated strong reactions in the higher levels of the state government.

The rehabilitation plan was finalised during state revenue minister Bhumidhar Barman’s visit to Dibrugarh last week.

Barman, who was accompanied by principal secretary (revenue) V.K. Pripersenia, met the officials of the Dibrugarh district administration to give final shape to the plan.

According to the plan, the 51 families will be allotted a one-bigha plot each.

“They will also get houses under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY). We will also provide them with tubewells and sanitation. Electrification will be carried out under the Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme,” said Rina Mech, the circle officer of the Chabua revenue circle.

The government will also construct roads and schools.

“Special care will be taken for the health and nutrition of children and women. We will organise regular health camps and ensure permanent health infrastructure,” deputy commissioner G.D. Tripathi said.

Tripathi added that Pripersenia, who was shocked over The Telegraph report, had issued strict instructions to ensure that the plan was properly implemented.

The families who will be shifted expressed satisfaction over the government action.

“Finally, it seems that the government has woken up to our woes. We have lost our home, land and farming plots to erosion. Now it will be an altogether different life in a new place,” 43-year-old Dilip Chetia, who had lost around three bighas of land, said.

Chetia, who once was a flourishing farmer, now works as a daily wage labourer.

Another villager, Dipak Konwar, 26, said with mixed feelings that his father Rajeswar Konwar died a couple of years ago, waiting for government help to come.

“I still remember I was in Class IX when the river took away all our land. We had around 10-12 bighas of fertile land and a huge orchard where everything starting from betelnut to pineapple, from guavas to jackfruit. From a well-established family, we suddenly became beggars. My father waited for several years. He used to knock on each and every government doors for rehabilitation, finally he died and now the government has come up with a rehabilitation plan,” Dipak said.

Even as the government prepares the plan, the Brahmaputra is eating up fresh areas in the nearby Oakland area.

Around 90 families have shifted from the Oakland tea garden and taken shelter in the temporary tents set up on the Oakland Mukalbari Road.

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