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Un-removed barricade, illegal sand mining pose threat to banks of Rongai River in Chibinang

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Biplab Kr Dey

Tura, June 28: Residents of Chibinang in West Garo Hills (WGH) have recently been spending sleepless nights over the continued erosion of the banks of the Rongai Valley project as the water of the river, Rongai continues to make inroads and taking away more and more soil every time the river is in spate. All this, as per locals, is taking place due to a barricade that has been placed in the middle of the river near where the main dam of the project was envisioned many decades ago.

Further, uncontrolled and illegal sand mining from the same river has also posed a similar threat even as residents grapple with the ongoing monsoon.

The Rongai River originates in the upper reaches of West Garo Hills before joining the Jinjiram River which further joins the mighty Brahmaputra River.

A visit to the site showed many sections of the bank, on both sides, already suffering from erosion. Large chunks of land have been washed away.

“We have no idea as to why the iron barricade that has been placed there has not been removed even after decades. Every year, due to this barricade, the flow of the river is disturbed and it puts huge pressure on the banks nearby. This has led to much of the bank eroding. A lot of land has already been lost and something is not done quickly, we are awaiting a catastrophe,” said local resident, Amit Marak.

The barricade (as can be seen from the picture) has created an artificial island as no water has been flowing beyond it. If the natural flow of the water had been maintained, the residents contended, the flow of water would have been smoother and less dangerous to those that live nearby. Erosion could have been stopped with just a few measures.

“We have approached various agencies of the government to seek a solution to the yearly erosion. A project had also been sanctioned and a little bit of work was carried out. However that has not really helped much in terms of saving the banks from erosion mainly due to the iron barricade that has been placed and never taken out,” said another resident, G Sanyasi.

Residents have now demanded that a project to create an embankment to protect the banks of the river needed to taken up urgently. Further they also demanded the immediate removal of the barricade from the middle of the river.

“We also want the embankment project to be taken up seriously and widened to protect the river banks. This will protect not only the bank but also the thousands of houses that are placed just by the side of the river.

“Following the 2014 cloud burst, a need was felt to protect the Rongai Valley project as well as the banks of the river. However whatever was sanctioned was not enough and is now lost due to the banks flooding every year during rains. A permanent solution to the problem needs to be worked on. Somehow, we as Chibinang residents have always been amongst the neglected lot,” added another resident.

Further they also questioned the lack of government support to their cause to ensure the banks of the river did not erode further.

Meanwhile another resident pointed to the continuing illegal sand mining undertaken by some locals that has also added to the woes being faced by the river and its banks. The illegal sand mining is being carried out without any sort of consent from either the GHADC or state forest and is being carried out by some locals with tacit support.

“This illegal sand mining has to be stopped with immediate effect as it is putting a lot of pressure on the river itself. As to why such acts are being allowed with such impunity is beyond the understanding of us. Everyone who is allowing this, should question themselves,” felt another resident.

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