Dhubri: Almost 700 families of Binachora village in Assam’s Dhubri district, located some 272 km from the state capital Dispur, are living in constant fear of getting disconnected from India. The reason -- the only road linking the village to the rest of the district and beyond is under threat of getting washed away completely by flood and erosion.
Located around 27 km from Dhubri town in the western part of Assam bordering Bangladesh, Binachora is a flood-ravaged village. Like hundreds of other villages of the district, Binachora, too, gets inundated by flood every year. However, the latest crisis is posing a unique challenge to the village -- of eventually vanishing from the country’s map.
Binachora is surrounded by the Kurigram district of Bangladesh to the east and south. In the northern side, the Gangadhar river disconnects the village from the rest of Dhubri district. The only connecting road to Dhubri is the 10-km Kanuri-Binnachora road, constructed by the Public Works Department (PWD) a year ago. However, the road is getting eroded with every passing day by the waters of Gangadhar, a tributary of Brahmaputra, .
According to the Census report of 2011, the border village has 334 houses with a population of over 9,000.
Talking to EastMojo, Illias Rahman Sarkar, a social activist, said hundred of houses, including the village mosque, got washed away by floodwaters last year. “More than Rs 38 crore was sanctioned to build the road, but look at its present condition. The speed at which the road is breaking off, it would not even last till the end of the year,” alleged Illias Rahman Sarkar.
Over 90% of the male population of Binachora are marginalised workers in various coal mines in Meghalaya, while some are working as construction labourers in Guwahati. The remaining 10% of the working population sells vegetables and poultry in the Golakganj town of Dhubri district.
“Earlier, the road was not in a good shape. The PWD built the present one a year ago. To save this road from floodwaters, the government had sanctioned Rs 10 lakh to construct bamboo fencing along the road. But, it seems, the contractor did not spend even a lakh to protect the road. The results are in front you,” alleged Abdur Rahman, a member of the gaon panchayat.
“The flood situation has started getting worse since 2005. On the other side of the road, there were hundreds of houses. The water took all of those away. In the past two years, over 70 houses have been destroyed by erosion and flood,” he added.
As per the villagers, due to the dilapidated road condition, buses have stopped plying on the road. Now, the only way to take a patient to the town hospital is by carrying the patient in a sangi (a bamboo cart lifted by two men on either side). No one in the village owns a four-wheeler.
“The system of sangi works only during the day time. At night, if an emergency arises, we do not have any mode of commute to go the town,” said Dolil Sheikh, a 70-year-old man from Binachora sitting in the courtyard of his house. Sheikh, while lamenting the lackadaisical attitude of the administration towards the villagers, recalled the Indo-Bangladesh war on the border and how he and his friends helped the Indian Army to build bunkers in that area.
“I remember those days when we used to help the Indian Army in the war. We used to build bunkers for them. We used to provide food and clean water to the jawans. But since decades, we have been neglected. This is what pains me at this age of life," said Dolil Sheikh.
“Bangladesh is only 1 km from the village. If the road collapses, we will have no land link to India. The road was earlier 15-metre broad when it was constructed. But the water has destroyed almost 6-7 metres of it now. We are just praying to have no more floods this season,” he added.
Four districts of Assam -- Dhubri, Cachar, South Salmara and Karimganj -- share the 267.5-km boundary with neighbouring Bangladesh. According to the directorate of border protection and development of Assam, among these four districts, Dhubri shares the highest length of 90 km with the country.
The district administrations of Assam do not have recent figures on how many villages have been washed away or got completely disconnected from India in these flood-hit districts so far.