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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Villages Disappear As Rivers Change Course In Arunachal Pradesh

A number of hamlets in the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh and upper Assam have disappeared under water in the last few decades with climate change causing rivers to migrate from their route, experts say.

Many such cases of inundation were initially described as flash floods by the administration, but gradually it has emerged that rivers like Bikram, Ranga, Bogi, etc, originating from the Arunachal mountains have actually changed their course due to long spells of high intensity rainfall.

A number of small villages like Hatkhola, Kapisala, Tenga, Bango and Vikram Chapori in Assam’s Lakhimpur and Dhemaji district and Papum Pare district in Arunachal have been among the worst affected as a number of settlements have gradually submerged under water, this visiting correspondent found.

An analysis of geological data shows that in some places the rivers have changed their course by 300 metres while in other areas the change was as high as 1.8 km in between 1963 and 2009.

“As a result, parts of some villages have gone under water while in other cases the entire villages have simply vanished,” points out geologist S K Patnaik of Arunachal’s Rajiv Gandhi University.

A study under climate change fellowship by the New Delhi -based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shows that this has not rendered hundreds of people homeless but also damaged agricultural fields and the rich biodiversity of this north-eastern state.

Although the total rainfall hasn’t changed much all these years, yet there has been an unprecedented increase in the duration and intensity of rainfall as well as cloudbursts in the Eastern Himalayas, explains Dr Prasanna K Samal, scientist in-charge at the G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development in Itanagar.
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