The Telegraph
Monday , July 17 , 2017

Displaced families bust govt's 'no-homeless' claim

- Nearly 700 flood-hit people take shelter in makeshift huts on road in Morigaon district

Bordia (Morigaon), July 16: Nearly 100 families taking shelter in makeshift huts along the 3km stretch of the road that connects Guwahati with Jagiroad in central Assam's Morigaon district proves the government's claim wrong that nobody has left their home in the district because of the current floods.

"It has been more than a week now that we have come here. No food item has reached us yet," 60-year-old farmer Matiram Boro told The Telegraph, with helplessness writ large on his face. He and his wife Parbati, sitting next to him, shifted to the roadside hut as floodwaters entered their home on June 8.

"My four sons and their families are living in our relatives' houses. But we don't feel like taking shelter in others' homes," Boro said. His wife did not look back and said a little angrily, "Nothing will come to us. Please don't take photographs."

The 100 families comprise nearly 700 people.

The family shifted to Bordia from Boralimari village, about 20km north, after the Brahmaputra eroded their 100 bigha land 20 years ago. "Now we have only two bighas of land. My sons work in other's farms as it's impossible to survive," Boro said.

The flood bulletin issued by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority says there is no shelter camp in Morigaon district though 1.78 lakh people in 233 villages have been hit by the floods.

"People in many flood-hit areas don't leave their homes to protect their valuables. So, we opened relief distribution points so that affected people can collect the food items and medicines. In some places it is difficult for the relief teams to reach with the items," education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said in Guwahati yesterday.

Boro's neighbour, Satama Medhi, a widow, is struggling with her six-member family as no relief has reached them. Her three sons, who work as daily wage labourers, are sitting idle because there is hardly any work opportunity during floods.

Bordia is situated about 30km east of Guwahati and is close to Pobitora wildlife sanctuary.

About 2km away at Kusiani village, Amina Khatun, who is taking shelter in a tarpaulin hut with six members of her family since June 2, got 8kg of rice and 1kg dal only on Friday. "Many children here are suffering from fever and earache as they frequently bathe in the floodwater. No doctor has come to us yet. We need tarpaulin as the children cry when it rains and water seeps in," she said.

She cannot even return home as there still is waist-deep water in her home. Her husband, Shekbar Ali, who works in brick kilns as a daily wage labourer, is sitting idle as the kilns remain closed during the rainy season. Women and children use plantain tree rafts to dangerously reach their homes from the huts in case of need. "Please ask the government staff to send some baby food as the small kids don't want to eat rice and dal," Khatun said.

Morigaon is a flood-prone district in Assam where deluge is an annual occurrence. At least four persons have died in the floods this year.

The families who are taking shelter in the roadside huts, meanwhile, have no option but to wait till the water dries up. Morigaon, like most parts of the state, reported no rain in the past 48 hours.

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