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Ganga gobbles up 70 houses in a few hours

‘I couldn’t imagine that the river would erode so much land within a few hours’
The eroded bank of the Ganga at Hiranandapur.
The eroded bank of the Ganga at Hiranandapur.
Samim Aktar

Alamgir Hossain   |   Samserganj   |   Published 05.09.20, 01:40 AM

Erosion has swept away at least 70 houses on the banks of the Ganga in Murshidabad’s Hiranandapur village late on Thursday night.

Forty other families living at the same village under the jurisdiction of Samserganj police station have moved out of their homes and taken shelter at the nearby Madhupur village.


Some of the families whose houses were lost to the swirling water of the Ganga have taken shelter at a high school in the adjoining Ali Lashkarpur village.

Tasiuddin Sheikh, 55, witnessed his two-storey house being gobbled up by the river overnight. He owns a mango farm, litchi garden and an agricultural field.

“There were three rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom on the ground floor. The first floor of the house had three rooms. After sunset on Thursday, large chunks of land near our house started to erode. Hurriedly, our family members joined hands and removed some furniture to safety. Around 9pm, the entire house went into the river in front of our eyes,” said an inconsolable Tasiuddin.

“I had built the house from scratch. The house was far away from the river when I had built it 20 years ago. Till last evening, the Ganga was 300m away from my house. I couldn’t imagine that the river would erode so much land within a few hours,” he added.

When the erosion began on Thursday, evening had set in and electricity had been snapped.

The villagers who feared that their houses might be lost in the erosion risked their lives to remove whatever they could from their homes in pitch darkness.

Like Tasiuddin and his eight other family members, those who had lost their homes to the river on Thursday spent the night under tarpaulin sheets provided by the Samserganj block development office.

BDO Joydeep Chakrabarty said: “The enormity of erosion at Hiranandapur village is unimaginable. The entire village is facing the threat of being wiped out. The administration is trying to do its best to help the displaced residents. We had informed the irrigation department about the situation. An engineer from the irrigation department visited the spot today (Friday) and said temporary measures to stem the erosion would be undertaken.”

A senior engineer of the irrigation department said the river was 40-50ft deep at the moment.

“In such a situation, it is difficult to carry out work to permanently protect the banks from further erosion. Such protection work can begin only after the monsoon when the water level will go down. For now, we are using bamboo to shield the area temporarily,” the engineer added.

The 70 families who lost their homes include Sahidul Islam, Rabiul Islam and Ataur Islam. Having lost roofs over their heads, they sat under tarpaulin sheds on Friday afternoon as they waited for food to be served.

Local Trinamul Congress MLA, Amirul Haq, arranged food for the affected families, but they don’t know from where the next morsel of food will arrive.

The region is known for frequent incidents of erosion. Last month, erosion had wiped away a few homes at neighbouring Dhangora village.

The families of Dhangora, who had lost their homes to the river, are yet to be rehabilitated. They continue to stay at the Ali Lashkarpur High School.

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