Seminar: "Understanding Riverbank Erosion in Majuli Island of Assam: Geomorphological Processes and Policy Implications" by Dr Avijit Sahay.
Riverbank erosion by Brahmaputra River in the Majuli Island of Assam has led to the displacement of thousands of people, and rendered them landless and homeless. However, those affected by riverbank erosion do not qualify for any assistance by the Central and State governments because erosion is not considered as a natural hazard under Indian laws. In this presentation, an attempt has been made to show that riverbank erosion in India is not a case of simple lateral erosion but a complex process involving mass migration of river channel and associated bank failure. The fluvial geomorphology of Brahmaputra is analysed with the help of Sinuosity Index and Braiding Index of a segment of Brahmaputra in Majuli, and the extent of migration of the river is calculated with the help of Migration Index, which has been developed for this presentation. After explaining the complex geo-morphological processes involved in riverbank erosion in Majuli, the presentation questions the academic rationale for excluding riverbank erosion from the list of natural hazards, and provides a compelling case for understanding riverbank erosion not just as an inevitable natural phenomena, but also as a natural hazard.
Dr Avijit Sahay has done BA from St. Xavier’s College, Ranchi, MA from Delhi School of Economics, and PhD from Department of Geography, University of Allahabad in the discipline Geography. His works have been published in the Oriental Anthropologist, the Economic and Political Weekly and Focus on Geography (Journal of the American Geographical Society). He is a Member of the Editorial Board of the Oriental Anthropologist and has contributed numerous Editorials to it. Currently he is working on the role of local government structures and the social and cultural organizations of Majuli in mitigating the impacts of riverbank erosion.