NATURAL DISASTER: Erosion eats away 3 villages – 500 families run from river rage

NATURAL DISASTER: Erosion eats away 3 villages – 500 families run from river rage – more rain still to come, and Likhubhir opened precariously for one-way traffic on Friday evening ?!!

A man on a raft at the inundated Sukantapally locality in Jalpaiguri on Thursday - Likhubhir precariously opened slightly on NH31A ?!! (Biplab Basak)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU

Aug. 20: Over 500 families of three Malda villages have moved to safer locations after the areas were gobbled up by the rising Fulhar and the Ganga in the past three days.

To make matters worse, the Met Office in Jalpaiguri has forecast more rain in the sub-Himalayan Bengal and Sikkim in the next 48 hours.

“In the past three days, three villages — Janjalitola, Ramayanpur and Trilochantola — in Ratua I block which are bordered by two rivers have been gobbled up by the gushing water,” said Latika Mondal, the Congress panchayat pradhan of Mahanandatola. “Most of the families have shifted to safer places with only a few staying near the swollen river to collect as much of their belongings as they can.”

Dhananjoy Mondal, a resident of Ramayanpur who has taken shelter in Mahanandatola, said: “The water level in the Fulhar was rising for the past three-four days but on Wednesday the situation turned for the worst. Both the rivers started eroding chunks of earth from either side, forcing us to abandon our homes. The erosion took away my house, cattle and agricultural land of around 20 bigha. Overnight, I have turned into a pauper.”

The rise in water level and the consistent erosion have prompted the district irrigation department to sound secondary (red) alert in Ratua-I, about 50km from Malda, and Harischandrapur-II block, about 110km from Malda. “We had issued primary (yellow) alert on Thursday but considering the state of affairs today, red alert has been sounded,” an official said.

Subesh Bera, the block development officer of Ratua-I, confirmed that three villages had been eaten up by the two rivers. “Around 500 families have become homeless now. We have sent relief including food and tarpaulin to the affected people,” he said.

Malda district magistrate Promal Kumar Samanta said the subdivisional officer of Chanchol — under which the affected area falls — had been instructed to ensure that each of the affected families get adequate relief at the earliest. “We are keeping a close watch on the situation.”

According to the Met Office in Jalpaiguri the rainfall is likely to continue for the next 48 hours in north Bengal and Sikkim as the southwest monsoon is still hovering over the region.

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