Racing against the monsoon

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Amid the heat and dust of the elections, there is a mini-revolution underway in the left bank areas of Mebo subdivision in East Siang district. The residents of the areas are stepping up efforts to build flood protection measures before the onset of the next monsoon.
Last year, many areas on the left bank of the Siang river in Mebo subdivision were devastated by the rampaging Siang. About 20,000 hectares of agricultural fields, plantations, forests and community burial grounds were washed away by the flooded river. Many villagers have shifted their houses to better locations, and several buildings and houses have been destroyed.
It seems that the continuing contamination of the Siang river has led to a rise in the river’s bed by several feet, leading to the river spreading sideways and causing massive soil erosion. The most probable reason for this rise of the river bed is the prolonged deposits of a mix of cement and oil, caused by massive construction and mining activities along the Tibetan side of the river.
The rampaging Siang river is threatening many villages of Mebo sudivision. Villages like Sigar, Borguli, Seram, Kongkul, Namsing and Mer are on the brink of being washed away. The villagers of the areas realized that if emergency protection measures are not initiated in the ongoing few months, many villages along with their agricultural fields may be wiped out in the next rainy season.
Towards this, the villagers of the area founded the SEEANG Foundation to initiate measures for protection from the rampaging Siang river. The SEEANG Foundation mobilized the local villagers by conducting several kebangs, started mobilizing resources, and approached the state government for help. The group consulted experts of different agencies regarding flood protection works.
After the research, it was decided to construct bamboo and wood porcupines and bunds/spurs made of stones and netting with the limited resources on a self-help basis at key sites. The villages mobilized resources and started the flood protection measures. Entire villages were involved. While men and women worked, others prepared food at the sites for the workers. On these lines, the villagers of Borguli, New Borguli, Seram, Kongkul and Namsing have constructed porcupines and bunds/spurs.
Seeing the people’s movement, the state government and the district administration visited the sites, and also provided support. Though immediate funds were sanctioned by the state government, the model code of conduct delayed the release of the much-needed funds.
A crash programme is also planned to construct bunds/spurs in key areas near Sigar village, which may lead to reduced damages in the villages of the area. The villages of the entire area are being mobilized for this upcoming crash programme, along with help from the district administration, the army, and other organisations. Though these locally constructed measures may not provide total protection, even if the damages are reduced and a few hectares of land are saved, it is worth the effort.
In the meantime, the villagers are hopeful that the promised funds will be released soon to carry out meaningful flood protection works. If urgent funds are required to save our villages, bureaucratic requirements of the model code of conduct due to the elections must be dispensed with. After all, floods do not wait for elections. The villagers of Mebo subdivision in East Siang district require your support and prayers for the next monsoon. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)