Flooding coupled with erosion is threatening the homes of thousands in Garo Hills, while the paddy crop in Ri-Bhoi in areas near the Umiam River have been destroyed as incessant rains continue to lash Meghalaya.
A stretch of riverbank along the Brahmaputra and Jingjiram Rivers is in danger of being washed away, threatening the homes of people living alongside the waterways.
“The areas adjoining the villages of Quajani, Kasbari and Kolabari, bordering Assam, have been threatened by erosion, which, if unchecked, could prove a huge threat to people in the coming days. I request you to instruct the line departments to look into the matter and issue instructions accordingly,” Rajabala MLA Azad Zaman wrote to Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma.
If not addressed, the MLA fears the effects of erosion could be felt throughout the Old Bhaitbari area and could extend to Nalbari, Fershkandi, Magurmari, Garodubi and Haripur in Selsella constituency.
Zaman stated that he was also making efforts to meet the Brahmaputra Board in Guwahati to inform it of the situation.
“There are quite a few Meghalaya residents who will be displaced and, if they are, most will be pushing into the hills as there is no land in the plains. This could again create conflict,” said the MLA.
The situation, most locals said, was akin to what happened earlier when the state saw large scale entry of Assam residents as the Brahmaputra washed away most of their lands, forcing people to look for higher ground and shelter.
Meanwhile, the flood situation remains within tolerable limits in Garo Hills, though the region remains on tenterhooks with hopes that the rain will ease over the weekend.
Water levels have risen in low lying areas of West and South West Garo Hills, raising alarm bells, but are still below the danger mark. Most agricultural land remains submerged, with water levels surging.
“The water level is rising but it is still not above the danger mark. Hopefully the rain will relent and allow the levels to go down. However, if it continues to rain, the situation will turn ugly very soon,” said a local resident of Phulbari, SR Sangma.
The plains belt this year has seen an unprecedented rise in water levels due to continuous rainfall, leading to flooding. The situation had become so grim that many families continue to live out in the open even as the floods have eased in places.
“The situation is being monitored and a close watch is being kept. Hopefully things will get better and we don’t have another flood again. If needed, I will personally go to look at the situation,” said Phulbari MLA SG Esmatur Mominin.
Meanwhile, many rice farmers in Ri-Bhoi have seen much of their crop ruined by the floods.
Village leaders of Umshaw village inspected affected paddy fields today and found many of those along the banks of the Umiam River submerged.
Village headman, Powerful Lyngdoh, said that this was not only because of the rains but also due to the release of water from Umiam Dam.
“This is a daily problem faced by the farmers along the banks of the Umiam River because whenever water is released from the dam the paddy fields and other crops are damaged,” Lyngdoh said while appealing for compensation for the lost crops.