Dibrugarh: Ajit Phukhan is not sure whether he will benefit from the Centre's plan to tackle floods that cause large-scale damage in Assam annually. The 47-year-old farmer from Rohmoria, a village in Assam's flood prone Dibrugarh district, has lost his home to the Brahmaputra river, which has expanded massively due to erosion and floods in the village. "Earlier the river was far away; we had huge agricultural land holdings and lot of villages were there. Now we have made a make shift home here but the river is about to eat it away," Mr Phukhan told NDTV.
Mr Phukhan claims his family has lost about 60 Bighas of agricultural land to erosion and siltation. He wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is visiting the state today to access the damage, to listen to their plight.
In last two decades, Rohmoria has lost 38 villages, four tea plantations, over 50 small tea gardens, a sericulture farm, 10 government schools and a police station due to erosion caused by the river. Over 20,000 people have migrated and 25,000 villagers face a similar fate.
Centre plans to address the floods and erosion problems plaguing the area through a integrated flood and erosion management initiative that would involve dredging in the 891 km-long Brahmaputra river, and build an express highway-cum-embankment on the both banks of the river to limit damage from annual floods.
While the announcement of the project has kindled new hope among the villagers, they are sceptical. Work that started on a smaller 9 km-long embankment project in Dibrugarh in 2011 still remains half done.
The affected people blame the change in governments at the Centre for the delay. "The government changed at the Centre and the process of clearance with the new government is cumbersome. Bureaucratic red tapism has also slowed down the process," lamented Binod Kedia, the Chief Advisor of Flood Erosion Resistance Struggle Forum which has been fighting for two decades to save Rohmoria.
Since 2014, several clearances of the second phase of work at Rohmoria is struck in limbo.