SILCHAR, Dec 13: On September 29 last, residents along the riverside and on the other side of road-cum-embankment in the Aryapatty-Dhakaipatty areas on the northern fringe of this town, while in sleep, suddenly felt jerks and jolts. They initially thought it could be earthquake. With dawn, it became clear that it was due to the slow and subtle erosion caused by the river Barak, there was shift and shrinkage of land mass which led to cracks in many houses.As Joydeep Dutta Chowdhury recounted, “We observed some portion of our concrete house has developed cracks and craters as a large area has been affected by erosion.” What surprised the residents was the abruptness with which erosion occurred without any prior signs or indications. The phenomenon has caused panic among them as no action plan has been initiated till date to contain the erosion by the Water Resources Department, he pointed out.
Though no specific reasons could yet be spelt out by the department concerned, knowledgeable circles with the WRD here refer to a study report of AC Barnard, executive engineer of the British era, which said, “Barak is the most sloughing river in the world that has the tendency to go back to its original course” Ramnagar Anua, a long and wide water lake, three km away from the site of erosion, is identified by experts as the original course of Barak. Barnard predicted it would be difficult to protect rivers bank residential as well as commercial areas like railway station, FCI godown and IOC depot in distant future.
It is to be recalled about 15 years ago, similar cracks had created panic among the people of Tarapur-Shibbari road. After sustained planning by the WRD by adopting ‘bamboo-piling’ and ‘boulder caging’, the erosion caused by deep underground seepages by the river could be contained. But, the fear continues to lurk as some villages have been swallowed by the turbulent river.
Erosion in the Aryapatty river side had spread over and area of 200 metres. It was way back in 1964 that boulders were placed along the bank to prevent the onslaught by the river. After that, there has been no strengthening or adoption of preventive measures, complained the affected residents like Bachu Dutta, Dilip Paul, Sujit Dey, Apu Roy, Subir Saha and Binoy Paul.
Minister DP Goala, MP Kabindra Purkayastha and DC Gautam Ganguli, officials of WRD as well as Geological Survey of India, visited the site. WRD and GSI personnel examined the erosion and collected relevant geo-physic information and data. “We have no information about their report and any follow up action,” said Dutta Chowdhury.Dibakar Bhattacharjee, WRD executive engineer, said the cracks were the result of erosion which he described as quite natural. On the preventive measures to be taken, he said at the technical advisory committee meeting to be held soon, the matter would be taken up for discussion to formulate scheme and devise ways to contain erosion. The GSI has not yet submitted any report to them, he added. Four months from now, monsoon will set in. Barak is known for many disasters in living memory. When in high spate and flooded, it takes a furious shape. Unless effective measures are taken to check the drift in the soil, residents have to live in perpetual fear and panic. THE SENTINEL