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Facing erosion by Brahmaputra, Assam's Majuli island fights for survival

By: Subhajit Sengupta

CNN-IBN

Last Updated: March 30, 2016, 09:59 IST

Facing erosion by Brahmaputra, Assam's Majuli island fights for survival

The world's largest river island Majuli in Assam has gained political importance after BJP CM candidate Sarbananda Sonowal decided to contest from the constituency.

Majuli: The world's largest river island Majuli in Assam has gained political importance after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) CM candidate Sarbananda Sonowal decided to contest from the constituency. The island, which is the cultural capital of the state, is also fighting for survival as almost 60% of the land has been washed away by the Brahmaputra.

The island has been marooned and cut off from the world by the mighty Brahmaputra for a good part of the day and the entire night, as the boats to Majuli from mainland ply only between 8 am to 4 pm.

This idyllic river island is the cultural and spiritual capital of Assam since 16th century, for here lived for many years the spiritual guru of the Land of Ahoms, Shankardev, the revered vaishnavite saint amongst the pantheons of socio religious reformers in medieval India. The socio-religious institutions or monasteries called Satras that Sankardev founded have since flourished and proliferated.



The political symbolism of BJP fielding its CM candidate Sarbananda Sonowal from Majuli is thus quite evident.

However, the battle for Majuli perhaps has more to it than just an over-simplified resemblance to another pilgrimage on the banks of the Ganges thousands of miles east of the river island.

It is not just the Satras, but the entire Majuli that faces the threat of extinction due to Brahmaputra. Individual embankments only help a bit as what the island needs is 2 Cs of development – conservation and communication.

Majuli has shrunk to by almost 60% of the 1,245 square km of its area in 1950. And as the entire land is being washed away, even the traditional houses fail to bear nature's wrath.

Even Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has agreed that in 15 years this is one challenge that he has failed to win. "Yes I have not been able to take care of it completely," Gogoi told CNN-IBN.

Even as the election 2016 approaches, those living in Majuli wonder as to how long they would have to be completely at the mercy of ravaging Brahmaputra during monsoon.
first published:March 30, 2016, 09:52 IST
last updated:March 30, 2016, 09:59 IST