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Flood-hit Tengapani village observes 4 months of lockdown every year
Abhijit Khataniar

People crossing the Noa-Dihing river on a country boat.– Photo: Doomdooma Correspondent– Photo: Arindam Gupta
 DOOMDOOMA, May 18 - The residents of Tengapani village situated along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border in Tinsukia district of upper Assam said that for the last 18 years they have been forced to observe a flood-induced lockdown for four months i.e., from June to September every year due to floods of Noa-Dihing river.

“During the devastating floods of 1992, the Noa-Dihing river had changed its course, separating Tengapani geographically from the mainland of the State. Since then, the villagers observe a complete lockdown every year during monsoons from June to September” , said the gaonburha of the village Sarat Chetia on Sunday.

“Only an age-old boat is there to connect with the other side of the river which we don’t use as it is risky during the floods. The bamboo bridge which was constructed by us this February was damaged recently by Namsai police of Arunachal Pradesh. Even if bridge is there, it could plunge into flood water during monsoons. A concrete bridge up to the last edge of Thepabari village which joins Tengapani with the rest of Assam is a genuine demand of the villagers,” Chetia added.

The village falls under Hahkhati Gaon Panchayat under Saikhowa Development Block of Sadiya LAC and Lakhimpur Parliamentary Constituency. The village has 107 households and all from the Moran community.

“Thirty per cent of the villagers here are using the river water for drinking. There is no electricity in the village, no health centre, no community hall, no pharmacy and the roads become muddy and watery after every spell of rain. The only primary school of the village is in a dilapidated condition. You can imagine our pain during rains as for everything we have to cross the river to go to Doomdooma or Tinsukia,” said a villager.

The economic condition of most of the villagers is also not sound and they depend either on seasonal cultivation or daily wage work. In spite of having enormous potential for agriculture, people of this village are suffering because of illiteracy, lack of commercial skills and the government’s lackadaisical attitude towards development of this belt.

Recently, Sadiya MLA Bolin Chetia visited the ongoing repairing site of Dirak-Sumoni embankment which is around three kilometre from the village twice to take stock of the progress of the work. It is expected that the completion of repairing work of the embankment with geobags will provide a relief to the villages under Hahkhati Gaon Panchayat and several others from flood and erosion.

On the other hand, following reports published in a section of press and social media regarding slow progress of the repairing work of the Dirak-Sumani embankment, a delegation of the All Assam Mottok Yuva Chatra Sanmilan and the Tinsukia district committee of AASU visited the site of the embankment on Sunday. The delegation expressed dissatisfaction over the slow progress of the repair work and asked the government to complete the work before advent of the rainy season. The students' bodies also demanded that the government takes steps for a permanent solution of the flood and erosion problem of the region.

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