Morigaon, Assam: Once a prosperous farmer, 55-year-old Prafulla Saharia from Assam’s Lengeribori village, 130 km from Guwahati, is left with no land he can call his own. The flood in the state, which has affected over 1,000 villages and killed 27 people, has inundated the two bigha land he owned. A cycle of floods and erosion has forced him to change his home three times in the past 10 years.
“Since 2007, I have lost my home and land three times due to erosion. Every year, the flood ravages us. The government has changed but our sufferings have remained the same,” Mr Saharia told NDTV.
Over the last 50 years, nearly 1 lakh families have lost their lands due to floods and erosion in Assam, according to official data.
As per the DONER ministry records, Assam loses 8,000 hectares of land every year to flood and erosion. In the last 50 years, the state has already lost about seven per cent of its land. In same time period, no less than 2,500 villages have been washed away causing an average annual loss of Rs 125 crores.
To mitigate this, the state has its integrated flood and erosion management programme. For this, Asian Development Bank is finding the state Rs 1,600 crores.
According to Assam government’s record, the district has a relief fund of about Rs 163 lakh. Villagers, however, allege they haven’t received a single penny relief from the government.
A young boy from the village said, “During floods we cannot go to school and other place for important works. We requested the government for a boat, but they did not provide one.”
Apart from the monetary crunch, the food stocks are also depleting.
“We are facing a huge problem. We are in makeshift arrangements, but how long can we go on like this? Our stock of grains is also getting over,” said another woman with tears in her eyes.
The villagers say they are angry over the glaring apathy of the government. First the Congress regime and now the BJP-led government have not been able to fix a breached embankment that had given away three years back, they allege.
“They told us they would mend it but did not. Had the embankment been strong, we would have been saved. Where is the money meant for flood and erosion mitigation going,” asked Dhananjay Mishra, a local youth.
With water levels in Brahmaputra rising, the flash floods have inundated villages and thousands are caught in a cycle of floods and erosion.