Soil Erosion in Assam's Morigaon Destroys One School, Several Others at Risk
More than half of the primary school collapsed into the river a few days ago, leaving about 350 students in despair. Some of the villagers on observing signs of erosion had moved the furniture out of the school.
Students in Morigaon look out of the damaged school building. (Video grab)
Guwahati: Around 200 people have been rendered homeless and shifted to other areas after the Brahmaputra broke through its banks in Laharighat circle of Assam’s Morigaon district.
More than half of Tulsibori Lower Primary School in the area collapsed into the river a few days ago, leaving 350 students in despair. Three more schools in the village, including a madrassa and mosque, are on the verge of collapse.
Some of the villagers, on observing signs of erosion in Tulsibori, moved the furniture out of the school. A part of the structure holding two classrooms partially submerged on Friday.
“We don’t have a future here. I thought I would study hard to become a successful man someday…,” said an 11-year old student of the school.
Villagers looked on as coconut trees along the 100-meter stretch of the river bank toppled one after the other on Friday.
“We have lost our house and property to erosion many times. We seek temporary shelter at someone’s accommodation but no one would keep us for long. We are left with no place to go. We don’t have money to buy land or build new homes,” said an affected villager.
The Brahmaputra flows along the northern boundary of Morigaon district and erosion of the alluvial bank has been taking place for years. Several villages have been washed away and hundreds of families continue to live under the threat. A 150-year old temple at Kathoni village crumbled into the river waters last year.
The All Muslim Minority Students Union (AAMSU) alleged that authorities are using the Brahmaputra as their ‘golden goose’.
“We have heard of and witnessed erosion in this place since the 80s. I recently read that Rs 126 crore has been released as erosion fund for this revenue village. The reality, though, is that since past 30 years there has been sub-standard construction work. Both the Brahmaputra Board and the state government have been using the river as the ‘goose that lays golden eggs’,” said Akhtar Hussain, AAMSU Morigaon district committee president.
Hussain was referring to the recurring construction work undertaken by the authorities after every flooding.
Meanwhile, concerned locals are planning to shift the students of Tulsibori primary school to a makeshift classroom in a nearby area. Some people said that the bankline in Laharighat circle has shifted by about 1 kilometre and strong currents have been noticed in the river area that eroded.
State Water Resources Minister Keshab Mahanta visited Tulsibori area Sunday morning and re-evaluated erosion control measures. He instructed the district authorities to aid affected families and find temporary shelter for the school.
(With inputs from Manash Jyoti Baruah)
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