A mass displacement of population is underway in India’s northeast. No, it has got nothing to do with some sectarian or political conflict. The culprit is water. Two rivers are threatening half of Northeast.
In Sikkim, the existence of the Lepcha tribe is in danger because of hydroelectric dams that have raised the level of River Teesta in places submerging lands on which people once used to live.
BBC reports that the Lepcha tribe, which predominantly lives along the banks of the River Teesta, are being forced to move to higher ground because of the rising river that has consumed their land.
The rise in the level of river water is because of the construction of many small dams. The report tells us about the Gyan Lepcha, a wealthy farmer, who is living perilously close to the flowing river.
He says, “Our trouble started the day they built a dam a short distance from our house. The water began to be stored in it. The river is now consuming the ground beneath us. We do not think we will be able to stay here for more than a few years.”
According to official statistics, the population is approximately 40,000. Though dams have increased electricity production, the homes of the local Lepcha tribe is threatened.
While dams are giving distress to the people in Sikkim, the fury of the Brahmaputra in Assam continues to only grow in intensity.
Floods have already left thousands homeless in Assam.
BBC recounts the tale of Mushibur Sheikh, a father of six, who was once a rich landowner of twenty acres of land.
The river swallowed his lands and he became a labourer to make ends meet.
The changing flow of the River Brahmaputra has rendered many homeless. With the passage of time, the river is only growing wider.
In the process, nearly two thousand square miles of fertile land has sunk into the river.
Statistics show that in the 1950s, where the average width of the Brahmaputra was about a kilometer, it has now increased to an average of five kilometers.
The Assam government knows that the biggest problem is the erosion of the ground. They accept that the other horrible truth is deforestation.
“If the situation continues, the problem will manifest itself into a frightening scenario,” an official told BBC.