Students in tears as Brahmaputra gobbles up school building
Morigaon (Assam), July 30 (PTI): The Covid-19 pandemic had taken away their fun-filled school hours since March and now the erosion by the Brahmaputra has taken away their school.
It has left the students, who are aged between five and ten years, puzzled and bewildered.
“What happened to our school? Where has it gone? When will it come back?” ask the children of Malahu Lower Primary School at Tulsibori village in Assam’s Morigaon district.
Erosion by the Brahmaputra in Assam, which is reeling under floods, has been particularly severe this year.
Not only the school but a number of houses and large areas of paddy fields in the locality have also lost their physical existence due to the devastating erosion by the mighty Brahmaputra.
“I don’t know what to say. They often come to the place where the school existed and ask me the difficult questions. Some kids even cry about the disappearance of their school,” headmaster Nirmal Boruah told PTI.
The headmaster, teachers, villagers and some students were standing on the river bank on July 11 when they saw the building being washed away by the Brahmaputra.
Boruah said that the little students were inconsolable on the fateful day when the school building and the playground were being gradually swallowed by the muddy waters of the trans-boundary river, which passes through three countries — China, India and Bangladesh.
“The Brahmaputra has taken the school from us. I don’t know what will be the future now. We have temporarily erected a bamboo structure, with the help of villagers, on a plot near the original school so that classes can commence once the government allows,” Boruah said.
“We will not allow this school to close down. It is our pride. Its location may change due to the erosion, but we will ensure that classes are held after the government allows schools to reopen,” said Narayan Bora, a villager.
Ganga Ram Chouhan, a prominent citizen of the area, blamed government inaction for the catastrophe.
“We have been urging the authorities to take steps against erosion for many years, but nothing materialised. The Water Resources Department did not take flood protection measures even as vulnerable areas faced continuous erosion by the Brahmaputra,” he added.
In the Bhuragaon revenue circle itself, as many as four lower primary schools and two high schools were completely submerged by flood waters.
Morigaon is one of the worst affected districts in Assam during floods every year. Around 4.5 lakh people of the district have been affected and eight people drowned in the floods this year.
According to the Water Resources Department of the Assam government, bank erosion by the rivers has been a serious issue as more than 4.27 lakh hectares of land, which is 7.40 per cent of the state’s total area, have already been eroded by the Brahmaputra and its tributaries since 1950, when the great earthquake had struck.
The annual average loss of land is nearly 8,000 hectares and the width of the Brahmaputra has increased up to 15 km at some places due to erosion.