Troubled waters swamp villages
The Statesman, Kolkata
July 10. — With the onset of the monsoons, several villages along the banks of the Bhagirathi in Nabadwip stand at the mercy of the eroding river that has already swamped hundreds of acres of agricultural lands, laterite roads and several hamlets.
Last week around a thousand people were rendered homeless following erosion on the banks of the Bhagirathi in Nabadwip town.
The erosion wiped out nearly 15,000 sq ft of the riverbank, including agricultural land. If the erosion continues, the historical site, the birth place of Sri Chaitanna Mahaprabhu will soon disappear under the river and because of this reason, thousands of locals raised their voices and stopped the erosion protection works taken by the district irrigation department. Later, the district administration intervened and brought the people under realisation of the necessity of the erosion protection works taken by the irrigation department.
Even as the state and Central governments plan steps to combat the problem, the river however poses a distinct threat every year, breaching embankments and wiping out hundreds of hamlets on its banks.
Not only Nabadwip, residents of Prachin Mayapur, Ghasuridanga in Kaliganj, Nilnagar Brittirchar in Santipur, Charsarati in Chakdaha, Bairaghat, Beharia and Fulia in Santipur and Kasiadanga in Nakashipara are facing similar threats of losing their homes as the Bhagirathi continues to grab embankments.
Following the fresh inundation in the month of November, 2004 by the river Bhagirathi owing to erosion in Nabadwip, the Irrigation department had sent four plans to the government for administrative approvals.
Of the four plans, the protection work against the bank erosion along the river Bhagirathi at Prachin Mayapur with an estimated cost Rs 42.19 lakhs was given top priority but the project has not been implemented as yet.
An irrigation department official said, with the monsoons, no major erosion protection works would be implemented.
And because of this reason, the irrigation department has started a temporary work of Rs 90000 by sandbags and others as a measure to stop the immediate erosion of the Bhagirathi.
According to the irrigation department officials, other protection works at Brittirchar, Charsarati and Ghasuridanga with an estimated cost of Rs 79.89 lakh, Rs 67.41 lakh and Rs 128.54 lakh respectively are also waiting for administrative approvals.
On the other hand, the flood protection scheme of Rs 1278.53 lakh at Nabadwip area was examined and cleared by the Ganga Flood Control Commission and necessary steps have been taken for investment clearance vide memo no. 1534-CI dated 4.08.04.
This work is likely to be started soon.
The Bhagirathi, Hooghly, Padma, Ichamati, Churni and Jalangi are the most important rivers of the district. Bhagirathi flows through the western part of the district while Hooghly meanders along the western and southern parts.
Bhagirathi covers four blocks: Kaliganj, Nakashipara, Krishnagar-II and Nabadweep.
Villages suffering from erosion owing to the rivers are, Juranpur, Gobra, Bhagyabantapur, Ballavpur and Panchpota of Kaliganj block, Tamaghata, Dadupur, Bhebodanga, Rukunpur, Udaychandrapur, Nischintipur of Nakashipara, Sankarpur in Krishnagar-II block and Nidaya, Idrakpur, Paschim Mayapur, Hulorghat, Charmajdiya, Gourango Setu and Panshila of Nabadweep block. Bhagirathi meets the Hooghly at Nabadweep.