Persistent Ganga river erosion devastates Murshidabad and Malda villages, urgent action needed

Persistent Ganga river erosion devastates Murshidabad and Malda villages, urgent action needed

Biswabrata Goswami

KOLKATA, 5 JULY: Latif Mondal, a 56-year-old resident of Shibpur village in the Samsherganj block of Murshidabad district, has witnessed the disheartening disappearance of his land four times in the past thirty years. He is among hundreds of villagers whose farmlands have succumbed to the relentless erosion of the Ganga River over the past five decades in Murshidabad and Malda districts.

Inside Post Content (After X Paragraph)

A recent comprehensive survey by researchers from Raja Narendralal Khan Women’s College, Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University, and Alia University has brought this alarming trend to light. Led by researcher Md Hasanuzzaman and supervised by Assistant Professor of Geography Pravat Kumar Shit, the study spanned from 1972 to the present, focusing on the dynamics, rate, and impact of river erosion on the populations of Malda and Murshidabad districts.

The researchers examined five blocks in Malda district—Manikchak, English Bazar, Kaliachak-1, Kaliachak-2, and Kaliachak-3—and two blocks in Murshidabad district—Farakka and Samsherganj. They studied 547 villages within a five-kilometer buffer along both banks of the lower Ganga River.

The findings revealed an average erosion rate of 0.0583 km/year on the left bank of the Ganga River from 1972 to 2022, particularly upstream from the Farakka barrage. The researchers identified twenty-eight high erosion-vulnerable villages, including Manik Chowk, Birnagar, Godai, Pairpur, Rambari, and Samsherganj. Projections estimate an average erosion rate of 0.0329 km/year on the right bank from 2022 to 2042. Social Vulnerability analysis revealed that residents on the left bank of the river, particularly in the upper section of the Farakka barrage, and those living in the char villages, were highly susceptible to social vulnerability.

Thirty-four villages on the left bank and eight villages on the right bank showed notably high social vulnerability. Furthermore, the hotspot analysis identified 51 villages as hotspots with 99% confidence, 7.13% of which were located on the left bank and 2.19% on the right bank. The significant changes in the river’s channel have severely impacted local communities, resulting in the loss of homes, farmlands, infrastructure, and other valuable resources.

Nikhil Ghosh, 63, from Durgaram Tola, Birnagar-2, Kaliachak, Malda, shared his ordeal: “I have been forced to shift my house three times due to Ganga river bank erosion. Seven kathas of my land have been lost. We don’t see anyone willing to solve this problem, neither the central government nor the state government. When the erosion started, the state government began some work, but it was just a demonstration. We have to rely on God without trusting any government.”

Similarly, Geeta Mandal, 42, from Durgaram Tola, Birnagar-1, Kaliachak, Malda, recounted: “I have had to change my home four times because of the river erosion. Now I can’t afford a new house, so I am forced to live under a plastic tarpaulin with my family. We didn’t get any help.”

Biswajit Bera, a geography professor at Sidho-Kanho-Birsha University, noted, “The construction of the Farakka barrage has likely contributed to changes in river morphology, particularly through the formation of sand and gravel bars. Fluctuating discharge and sediment deposition disrupt the river morphology, leading to instability and increased erosion.”

Pravat Kumar Shit explained, “The upper layer of the Ganga in Malda and Murshidabad is hard, but two feet below is soft white sand. The rise and fall of water pressure wash away this sand, loosening the soil and causing houses near the bank to collapse into the river.”

Researcher Md Hasanuzzaman emphasized, “Riverine erosion is a national problem. It damages agriculture and disrupts livelihoods, forcing people to relocate repeatedly. The central government’s indifference is evident despite initiatives like Namami Ganga and the Ganga River Basin Environment Management Plan.”

Aznarul Islam, a geography professor at Alia University, explained, “River erosion negatively impacts daily life and livelihoods. Frequent relocations and financial losses lead to stagnation in development and a decline in the quality of life.”

Residents across Malda fear that renewing the Farakka-Ganga water distribution agreement will exacerbate erosion. They claim erosion has increased since the barrage’s construction, with silt accumulation reducing the river’s navigability. The Malda Ganga Erosion Prevention Action Citizen Committee warns that erosion will worsen without proper dredging.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has raised concerns about the renewal of the Farakka-Ganga water sharing agreement, due to expire in 2026. She stated, “The stoppage of Ganga dredging is the primary cause of floods and erosion in Bengal. Millions are losing their livelihoods. The State Government, a party to the Farakka-Ganga Treaty, has not been consulted on its renewal.”

The Ganga flows through 80 km of Malda district, where vast areas erode annually. The ‘Erosion Prevention Committee’ claims thousands of bighas of land, including 29 mauzas, have submerged in the Ganga over the past two decades. An entire village panchayat has disappeared, with 26 mauzas or 300 square kilometers reemerging as char. Tariqul Islam, the committee leader, urged, “Ganga is a national river. The central government must allocate funds for erosion prevention. The state government’s sandbag efforts are insufficient. A master plan for permanent erosion control is necessary.”

The ongoing erosion of the Ganga River poses a significant threat to the livelihoods and homes of residents in Murshidabad and Malda districts, demanding urgent and comprehensive action from both state and central governments.

Tags: #Ganga #Erosion #Malda #Murshidabad

Share and Enjoy !

Below Post Content

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *