Hundreds marooned in Bangladesh by landslides in India

August 16th, 2008 - 11:50 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Aug 16 (IANS) Hundreds of people have been marooned in four villages along Bangladesh’s northeastern border with India following landslides caused by excessive rainfall in the hills of Meghalaya. Torrential rains have wreaked havoc in Kalapahar hills, sending sand and rocks across the border into villages near Tahirpur in Sylhet district of northeastern Bangladesh.

More than 600 people have been marooned since July 23 in the most affected villages of Chandpur, Noyachhara and Rajaniline, The Daily Star said Saturday.

The problems started July 20 when landslides triggered by incessant rains in the Meghalaya hills released thousands of tonnes of sand and stone, which came rushing down onto the villages in Bangladesh with rainwater through small streams locally known as chhara. Rains in the area are likely to continue intermittently till mid-October.

Some parts of the villages remain inundated with stagnant water. Border roads have been badly damaged, crops have been destroyed and the stranded villagers in the remote area are in need of food and water. The local administration said some food had been given to the villagers.

Sources said excessive limestone and coal mining in Meghalaya had loosened the soil. Monsoon rains then trigger big landslides, which come down into the borderlands and beyond through 18 chharas, making villages on Tahirpur border subject to recurrent environmental disaster.

Major Abu Hanifa, operations officer of 17 Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) Battalion in Sunamganj, told the Daily Star: “We’re preparing a detailed report on the extent of damage and the number of border pillars that disappeared.

“We’ll then raise the issue with Indian authorities and ask them for steps to stop the recurrence of such disastrous situations.”

About 50 border villages from Koroigara to Birendranagar have been facing the onslaughts for the last five years. Already vast swathes of cropland have been badly damaged.

Sunamganj Deputy Commissioner Saber Hossain said the administration would rehabilitate the affected families.

Divisional Commissioner Zafar Ahmed Khan, who visited the area Thursday, said it was impossible to stop sand and rocks from rolling down to foothill villages during the monsoon.

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