Continued erosion of the Bhagirathi riverbank has posed a severe threat to a number of habitats in Kalna and Katwa sub-divisions and the river has reached 20 metres close to the Bandel-Katwa Railway track.
As the affected areas fall within his Assembly segment, the state animal resources minister Swapan Debnath urgently notified the state irrigation minister during a video conference today.
Later, Debnath told reporters at Burdwan (East) Zilla Parishad: “It’s just a matter of time that the Bandel-Katwa Railway track will be grasped by the Bhagirathi river as the continued erosion has caused the river come very close to the tracks.
He added: “Yesterday, I was accompanied by the engineers, inspected the villages beside the riverbank. As per measurements by the engineers, the river was barely 20 metres away from the tracks at Zaluidanga village.”
He said: “I described the situation to the irrigation minister pleading that the erosion may increase further during the monsoon.”
But, the irrigation minisstated: “Told me that the irrigation authority was failing to initiate preventive works there as the land in that area is owned by the Railway authority.”
Villages like Zaluidanga, Kalinagar have been facing the threat of extinction and according to the residents of Kalinagar, like Khudu Sheikh, Habib Sheikh: “Powerful tides in the Bhagirathi during Amphan super-cyclone accelerated erosion of the earthen riverbank. The officials though had inspected the areas after the cyclone but no action to help recovery of the riverbank health was initiated as yet.”
Three years ago, the irrigation department and the zilla parishad together had planted caged boulder stone blocks to create an artificial wall along the riverbank but Amphan destabilised that wall this year. House of one Suraj Sheikh is located barely 200 metres away from the river now.
He said: “My house was nearly half a kilometer away from the riverbank five years ago.” At today’s video conference, the irrigation minister took note of pre-monsoon situation of villages beside the riverbanks of Bhagirathi, Damodar, Ajoy, Khori and Dwarakeswar. The Animal Resource Minister said: “We apprehend some villages like Kalinagar, Zaluidanga may disappear from the map if action is not taken immediately.”