ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Apathetic State, Angry Waters

They wanted respite from the fury of nature, and faced the wrath of powerful human beings. On July 17, the police fired on an assembly of people at Kharibona village, Bhagabangola, in Murshidabad district of West Bengal. One person died and several were injured. The people who had gathered there did not have a political agenda – they were demanding proper measures to prevent the annual havoc caused by floods.

The place is on the banks of the river Padma. Erosion has reached alarming proportions here. Each monsoon brings devastation as the swelling waters engulf a new village or suburban locality. The state and the central governments have been passing the buck on relief and prevention measures, while reports of expert committees gather dust. They debate whether to call it a national calamity or not, even as thousands are marooned routinely. However, the rainy season sees some hectic activity on the river bank. Boulders come in truckloads and are laid in neat rows, ostensibly to check the erosion. As the water rises, these irregular blocks of stone are simply washed away. The next year, contracts are again awarded for the same work. Strangely, the work is done not during the dry season but begins with the advent of the monsoons. The result is as expected.

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