Punatsangchhu (Sunkosh) has started to erode embankments close to the private lands of Kuendrelthang (Majhigaon) in Lhamoizingkha, Dagana, leaving residents worried.
Although at an early stage, villagers cite examples of the river eating large chunks of land in other areas along the same embankment saying something must be done before it is too late.
Lhamoizingkha has become prone to erosions in the last decade. In the last five years, private lands were eroded in Jumanay and Hawajori villages that lie along the same embankments as Kuendrelthang.
Today, river protection projects are saving these two villages from further erosion.
In the case of Kuendrelthang, a gabion wall has been deflecting the water. However, the wall has withered this summer and Kuendrelthang residents say the river could soon erode into their lands.
One villager, Lobzang Dema said the risk is growing each year.
“Although private lands are not eroded there is every chance that the river would start eating in,” she said. “The wall is not helping anymore.”
Due to this risk, most farmers in Kuendrelthang have also switched to cultivating areca nuts from paddy. Villagers claim that growing paddy would loosen the soil and make it easier for Sunkosh to eat into their lands.
Another Kuendrelthang resident Phurpa Lhamo, 51, said the river had washed her lands and lost about 25 areca nut trees.
“Officials had come and surveyed the losses,” she said. “A measure must be put in place immediately to stop the river from getting closer to our lands.”
Lhamoizingkha gewog office has been informed of this growing public concern. Kuendrelthang tshogpa Barun Majhi said the current problem in his village is similar to the erosion that occurred in January three years ago.
“The river flows a different course and returns to hit the embankment,” he said. “I know people are concerned and they have repeatedly raised it.”
Barun Majhi said the next summer could cause distress if something is not done. However, he said they have reported to the gewog administration. The village also gauges situation and report to gewog office when heavy rainfall occurs during summers, he added.
“We always report to our gewog office during monsoon,” Kuendrelthang tshogpa said, adding the gewog office was informed thrice last summer.
“The old walls have served well but the condition is not good anymore.”
Kuendrelthang tshogpa said there is an indication of another budget likely for river protection on the Sunkosh embankments.
Lhamoizingkha is synonymous with rivers and streams eroding private lands. Raidak (Wangchhu) has eroded the entire Lamchey village and the village is under the river today.
About 15 years ago, the area where a huge protection wall stops Sunkosh at Jamunay today was a green ground that people used to walk over. Sipsuni river, which swells during monsoon has also caused damage to private lands.
Rajesh Rai | Lhamoizingkha