Deluge victims face jumbo threat in Majuli (India)


Times of India

Date Published

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Forest officials said the elephants are arriving in the sandbar in search of food.
Jorhat: With no respite from floods, the residents of Majuli’s Pagola Chapori are now facing another threat that of wild elephants, who have been taking shelter in the southern side of the sand island since Thursday.

The floods in Majuli have affected nearly 1.2 lakh people. When around 150 elephants, including more than 40 calves, took shelter at Malbhog Chapori near Pagola Chapori, 25 families had to shift to an embankment in fear of the elephants. Some people have taken shelter at the Misamora flood relief camp.

Forest officials said the elephants are arriving in the sandbar in search of food. They are hopeful the herd will continue to take shelter there for a few more months as it has a sufficient supply of food.

Divisional forest officer (Jorhat) Sapon Saikia said, “We have deputed 10 forest staff members to ensure the protection of villagers and to monitor the movement of the jumbos there.”

It is regular practice of the flood- and erosion-affected families in Majuli, who are rendered homeless, to take shelter on embankments. Over 2,000 such families have been taking shelter on the Sumoimari-Tekelifuta embankment and the Kamalabari-Bongaon embankment since their lands were eroded by the Brahmaputra in 2008. They are now taking shelter in areas like Bengenati, Kaniajan, Sonowal Gaon, Burha Kalita and Kakorikota due to floods and erosion of the Brahmaputra.

Jatin Payang, a flood and erosion victim taking shelter on an embankment at Bengenati said, “We are living here since 2008. We have made a shed, measuring 10 feet in breadth and 18 feet in length, at the side of the dyke where the six members of my family, including four children, are living. I have cattle, pigs and other livestock here. I earn livelihood by selling these and by working as a daily wage labourer occasionally. We have no alternative to live our lives.”

“We are living a miserable life here. Even our minimum needs are not being met. We have lost everything in these floods. Rehabilitation is still a distant dream for us,” said Biren Chirang, Jatin’s neighbour.