ENVIRONMENT: Gnaw speed spurs panic – 350 metres eaten away by Mahananda in a week

ENVIRONMENT: Gnaw speed spurs panic – 350 metres eaten away by Mahananda in a week – now paying the price of deforestation earlier ignored ?!!

The embankment after its erosion on Thursday - noticed the absence of trees to hold the soil ?!! (Photo by Kundan Yolmo)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Siliguri, July 9: About 350 metres of the Mahananda’s embankment on the outskirts of Siliguri town has been eroded by the river in the past one week.

At this speed, residents of Ward 42 fear, it will be only a few hours before the river enters the locality with a population of 1,000.

The river had already eaten away 300 metres of the embankment in the past one week and another 50 metres was washed away this morning, said Uday Sengupta, the assistant engineer of the irrigation department’s Siliguri division. He added that the nearest house was only eight metres away.

The official, however, said there was no fresh erosion after the one in the morning. “The erosion is making work on the embankment difficult.” The irrigation department is trying to strengthen the embankment with boulders and iron net, Sengupta said. “We have identified the danger zone in Kamalanagar and are trying to dig a channel between the embankment and the riverbed 300 metres upstream so that the water pressure downstream reduces by about 30 per cent.”

The department has asked the government for Rs 35 lakh from the calamity relief fund.

“The erosion has created panic in Kamalanagar, Vivekanandanagar and a part of Salugara. If it is not checked immediately, thousands of residents will be affected by the swollen river,” said Dilip Singh, the councillor of Ward 42

Bapi Das, a resident of Kamalanagar, said: “Only this morning we lost 50 metres of the embankment. At this rate, we may lose our land and houses to the river in a few hours.”

The swollen river prompted the councillor and Siliguri mayor Gangotri Datta to SOS the irrigation department. The mayor, who visited the spot yesterday, said: “We are prepared with a relief team.”

Till this morning, 74mm rainfall had been recorded in Siliguri. According to the Met office, heavy rainfall is likely to continue for the next 24 hours in the sub-Himalayan Bengal.

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