Hundreds of villagers from Birnagar I gram panchayat of Kaliachak in Malda district put up rail and road block, after a large portion of land was eroded during high tide in overflowing river which rendered them homeless.
The incident disrupted both railway and bus services in the north Bengal. Long distance buses ferrying passengers between Kolkata and Siliguri and other parts in north Bengal were stranded in traffic jam for many hours.
All vehicles were queued up in serpentine lines, causing serious inconvenience to the passengers. Various north Bengal and North East-bound trains were stranded at various places.
The sub-divisional officer of the town, who rushed to the spot to placate the agitating crowd, was subjected to harassment by the demonstrators. The villagers divided themselves in two groups and put up the barriers at Chamagram of Baishnavnagar and on National Highway 34 Monday afternoon.
They said that around 125 houses from three villages under Birnagar I gram panchayat were submerged due to soil erosion. Cracks had developed in around 200 more houses as well. They also expressed their resentment over the distribution of relief materials among the affected victims, as some of the villagers deliberately brought down their houses after they developed cracks. The villagers also demanded that the state government provide them proper rehabilitation in some other places.
The protestors alleged that they had to live in the open for the last five days. The district administration has failed to provide them with tarpaulin sheets and adequate food.
It may be mentioned that North Bengal Development Minister Rabindranath Ghosh had visited the spots few days ago and asked the District Magistrate to take adequate measures in this regard. He also asked the district administration to provide them the relief materials and food to the villagers.
The district administration assured the villagers that they would take necessary arrangements for their rehabilitation. But the senior officials of the district administration are yet to announce the places where they would be rehabilitated.