In Bhagalpur Lok Sabha poll, Ganga swallowing homes by hundreds fails to make a splash

Hindustan Times, Bhagalpur | By, Bhagalpur
Apr 14, 2019 09:40 AM IST

 Settled close to the long stretch of riverine belt that has been witnessing sharp erosion for long, it will be the second time for Shivnandan to be facing displacement if there is further erosion this year.

Shivnandan Mandal (66), a resident of Rani diara panchayat in Kahalgaon subdivision, is a worried man, faced as he is with the threat of being displaced due to land erosion caused by river Ganga.

Land erosion caused by river Ganga.(HT)
Land erosion caused by river Ganga.(HT)

 Settled close to the long stretch of riverine belt that has been witnessing sharp erosion for long, it will be the second time for Shivnandan to be facing displacement if there is further erosion this year.

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He belongs to same Gangota caste which Ajay Kumar Mandal, the NDA candidate, and Sailesh Kumar alias Bullo Mandal, the RJD candidate and sitting MP, belong to. There are about two lakh Gangotas, making them a major voting group.

However, Shivnandan does not expect any help from either of them. He says the question of existence for a large population residing in riverine belt has been diluted in the electoral battle of Mandal Vs Mandal.

 Gangotas, a dominant caste group in riverine belt, are themselves divided on extending support to the two Mandals and the problem of erosion is hardly an issue, Shivnandan says.

Like him, majority of more than 10,000 population of Rani diara panchayat has been facing the serious threat of displacement because of erosion. The entire area of Rani diara had two panchayats, namely Tapuwa and Rani diara.

Ramesh Kumar, executive engineer, Water Resource Department (WRD), says measures taken in past to prevent land erosion caused by the river in Rani diara area had failed to yield desired results.

 “It’s now more than a year of efforts from the department. Now, local authorities have been suggested to shift entire population of the area to another place since measures for preventing land erosion is not proving effective,” he says.

However, according to officials, the land where population of the area could be shifted is yet to be identified.

Vineet Kumar, resident of Subbanagar panchayat of Kahalgaon block adjoining Rani diara, says that in more than 10-kilometre-long stretch located close to southern bank of river Ganga, extending from Bateshwar in Kahalgaon block and  Khabaspur in Pirpainty block, nearly 30,000 people residing in five panchayats face perennial threat of being displaced.

 He says many who can afford have either shifted or are in the process of shifting to safer places while the majority has no alternative despite serious threat.

Kumar, who is also the convener of Diara Vikas Manch, says many of the affected people have recently formed Kataw Nirodhi Sangarsh Samiti to mount pressure on the administration and on the contestants.

Incidentally, a sizeable chunk of Gangotas resides in diara villages located adjacent to Ganga and Kosi in the district.

Brajesh Yadav, a resident of Kissandaspur panchayat located in an area effected by erosion, says his house is located barely 50 metres from the stretch presently experiencing land erosion. Since there is no land behind his house where he could further shift with his family, it is only a matter of time that he faces his worst fate.

The problem of land erosion is not restricted only to riverine area of Kahalgaon subdivision. In fact, it’s more acute in Naugachia subdivision of district, which is also part of Bhagalpur parliamentary constituency.

Anil Kumar, executive engineer, WRD flood control division, Naugachia, says there is problem of land erosion in 10-15 kilometres of the stretch. The subdivision is located between Ganga and Kosi.

 Ismailpur is one of the worst affected blocks of the subdivision faced with problem of land erosion caused by Ganga. Five years ago, the entire Kamlakund village of the block was lost in land erosion.

Earlier, in 2010-11, entire Punama Pratapnagar village of Naugachia block was lost in erosion by Kosi.  At present, quite a large population residing in Gopalpur, Naryanpur, Kharaik, Naugachia and Ismailpur blocks of the subdivision are faced with threat of being displaced.    



    Avijit has around 20 years of experience in journalism and reports across beats for HT from Bhagalpur and adjoining districts of eastern Bihar.

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