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regular-article-logo Monday, 26 February 2024

Ganga erodes its banks at alarming proportion, hundreds living in vicinity fear homelessness

Women of Malda villages fall at MLA's feet with pleas to save them from erosion

Soumya De Sarkar Malda Published 10.08.23, 07:08 AM
Women pray on the bank of the Ganga at Mahanandatola village in Ratua 1 block on Tuesday as the riverbank continues to erode and vast stretches of land are gobbled by water

Women pray on the bank of the Ganga at Mahanandatola village in Ratua 1 block on Tuesday as the riverbank continues to erode and vast stretches of land are gobbled by water Pictures by Soumya De Sarkar

Hundreds of families living in the vicinity of the Ganga in Ratua 1 block of Malda district are spending sleepless nights with an apprehension that they will be roofless anytime as the river has been eroding its banks at alarming proportion for the past three days.

A section of residents of Mahanandatola, Srikantatola, Moniramtola, Bilaimari and other villages have already started shifting to safer places. But financially weaker residents are reeling in fear, thinking of their future if the Ganga swallows their huts.

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For the past few days, the Ganga has been eroding on a massive scale the land along a stretch of nearly 20km on its left bank. Vast swathes of agricultural land have already been engulfed by the river.

On Monday, a police camp in the Mahanandatola was washed away by the Ganga.

Samar Mukherjee, the Trinamul Congress MLA of Ratua and a resident of Mahanandatola, said if the erosion continued, the Ganga would gobble even his house.

While Mukherjee was taking stock of the situation on Tuesday, local women were seen imploring him by touching his feet to do something to save them from the peril. Some of the women were seen bursting into tears.

Mukherjee, while consoling the women, started shedding tears, too. The octogenarian MLA lambasted the Centre and Khagen Murmu, the BJP MP of Malda North, for being allegedly indifferent to the plight of hundreds of families who might lose all their properties at any time.

“Around one lakh people live in these villages. Those who have some means have already started shifting to Debipur, Kahala and other safer places. But most of the families do not have monetary support and are day wage earners. I have no words to console them. I am myself feeling helpless as their legislator,” Mukherjee said.

The Trinamul MLA said Murmu didn’t keep his promises.

“Before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, he had promised to take up the issue of riverbank erosion in the Parliament if elected as an MP. But now, he is asking the Centre not to release funds for the prevention of erosion,” alleged the senior MLA.

Murmu reacted to the charge in a video message sent from Delhi.

“The MLA does not know perhaps that the Bengal government has not sent any proposal to the Centre with a comprehensive plan to address the issue of erosion. Even then, I have taken it up with those concerned," he said.

Bhagabati Mandal, a resident of Mahanandatola, said he did not have alternative land of his own to shift from the existing location.

“The disaster is imminent and we want a solution. A section of us is even staying in mango orchards as we don’t own any other plot. It is high time that the central and state governments act in the interest of thousands of helpless people,” he said.

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