Mainstream, VOL LIV No 42 New Delhi October 8, 2016
Farmers made Homeless and Landless by River Erosion still Waiting for Relief and Rehabilitation
Sunday 9 October 2016
Imagine a farmer family leading a secure life based on its fertile fields suddenly becoming not just landless but also homeless in the span of a few hours. This has been the tragic and traumatic experience of thousands of rural families not only this year but also in most recent years. Whether it is the Malda and Murshidabad areas of Bengal or Gazipur and Bahraich districts of Uttar Pradesh or other remote areas of Bihar and Assam, the problem of river erosion has been snatching away the farmland and homes of many rural people year after year.
While some hamlets of Gazipur, like Semra and Shivrai, suffered heavy losses in 2012-13, others have been badly eroded this year. Proud farmers were forced after the loss of their land and houses to live like refugees under the open sky for some time. Later some sought refuge on embankments and some in other places. The absence of proper policies for relief and rehabilitation has led to the denial of alternative land to these uprooted people.
According to Premnath Gupta, a represen-tative of Gaon Bachao Andolan which has been struggling for the erosion-affected people in Gazipur, despite many protests and petitions the demands for rehabilitation have not been accepted yet. He says that several villages of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, which had played a prominent role in the freedom movement, are now on the verge of being wiped out or destroyed to a large extent by river erosion.
Urgent action to help people affected by river erosion in the form of immediate relief as well as proper policies for rehabilitation is badly needed.
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