Unabated riverbank erosion and deposition of silt due to the flood caused by breaching of embankments have affected the agricultural life of the riverine population in Lakhimpur district.

Hectares of agricultural land have been lost to massive erosion by Subansiri river in Kalakhowa, near Ghagar ferry ghat just 5 km away from district headquarter North Lakhimpur.

This has resulted in the shrinking of agricultural products annually and the displacement of villagers.

Kashi Nath Payeng (67), a farmer of No. 1 Kalakhowa village under North Lakhimpur Revenue Circle grew paddy in six bighas of land this year.

But the second wave of bank erosion by the Subansiri has devoured almost half of his agriculture land with ripening standing crops.

Same is the case of Gobinda Mili (28), a young farmer and Disco Payeng (30) of the same village.

Gobinda, who has experienced displacement due to erosion for six times so far in his life says that the river has been moving this time towards the low-lying area of its right-hand side bank in the village which could be dangerous in the next monsoon.

Disco Payeng also lamented the same old story of erosion and displacement. Presently the villagers are living precariously in Chang Ghars just a few meters away from the river.

This area of Lakhimpur district is rich in Kharif crops like peas, mustard and other vegetables besides rice.

But the shrinking agriculture land due to erosion has affected the livelihood of the villagers along with their cattle.

The villagers are worried day and night of losing their remainings and demand bank protection measures with geo-bags.

It may be mentioned that the bank protection work on Subansiri at Ghagar area has so far been ineffective with the fixing of the porcupines by concerned departments.

Apart from erosion river siltation has taken its toll on agriculture land in flood-ravaged Aamtola in Panigaon region of Lakhimpur district.

Hectares of cropland in ten villages of this area has been covered by sand since 2017 when Ranganadi breached its right-hand side embankment in Joinpur village.

For the last three years, many affected families have been forced to stay in makeshift sheds on the embankment and on the roads in Aamtola area.

Two farmers look on to their farmland, which is now full of silt deposited during the flood earlier this year. Image: Northeast Now

“The breach of the ring bund in Bongaon in 2017 has still not been repaired,” complains one local youth.

“The siltation in lands have made it impossible to grow crops ever since,” he added.

The flood-ravaged by Ranganadi in Aamtola has already forced many to migrate in search of work.

But the nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic has reversed that trend this year. This has left hundreds of youth losing their means of livelihood in that area.

Farhana Ahmed

Farhana Ahmed is Northeast Now Correspondent in North Lakhimpur. She can be reached at: farhana.ahmed777@gmail.com