AP PHOTOS: In India, river erosion engulfs villages

Nov 6, 2022, 6:23 AM | Updated: 8:30 pm
Ranajit Mandal, 35, the priest of a temple of Hindu goddess Durga stands with his son watching the ...

Ranajit Mandal, 35, the priest of a temple of Hindu goddess Durga stands with his son watching the temple being washed away by the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. "The river has washed away everything, and we have no place to go back to now," he said. "Even though we are staying nearby now, if this continues, we'll have no choice but to move away from here, away from the river." (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

(AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

              Villagers watch a temple of Hindu goddess Durga being washed away after the soil eroded along the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. 50 homes in Murkata village were washed away by the river in a matter of days, along with this temple. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              Ranajit Mandal, 35, the priest of a temple dedicated to Hindu goddess Durga stands by an empty plot where his house was washed away by erosion of the river Brahmaputra, as his wife collects gourds from her vegetable garden at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. "The river has washed away everything, and we have no place to go back to now," he said. "Even though we are staying nearby now, if this continues, we'll have no choice but to move away from here, away from the river." (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              Villagers salvage material from a temple of goddess Durga before it was washed away by erosion along the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. The river Brahmaputra has always changed course and reclaimed farmland and villages, but the frequency and severity of the river's destruction has increased in recent years. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              Villagers salvage material from a temple of goddess Durga before it was washed away by erosion along the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. The river Brahmaputra has always changed course and reclaimed farmland and villages, but the frequency and severity of the river's destruction has increased in recent years. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              Villagers walk past an eroding bank by the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. A report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a New Delhi-based climate think tank, found Assam to be the most vulnerable state to climate change in India. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              A woman who lost her house to erosion along the river Brahmaputra fetches drinking water at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. The river Brahmaputra has always changed course and reclaimed farmland and villages, but the frequency and severity of the river's destruction has increased in recent years. 50 homes in this village were washed away by the river in a matter of days, along with a temple dedicated to Hindu goddess Durga. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              A villager carries his belongings, salvaged before his home was washed away by the river Brahmaputra in Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. With India ranked the seventh most vulnerable nation to climate change by the non-governmental group Germanwatch, residents of Murkata are on the front lines of the climate crisis. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              Villagers arrange their belongings, salvaged before their homes were washed away by the river Brahmaputra in Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. A report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a New Delhi-based climate think tank, found Assam to be the most vulnerable state to climate change in India. With India ranked the seventh most vulnerable nation to climate change by the non-governmental group Germanwatch, residents of Murkata are on the front lines of the climate crisis. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              A school stands damaged by erosion along the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. The river Brahmaputra has always changed course and reclaimed farmland and villages, but the frequency and severity of the river's destruction has increased in recent years. 50 homes in this village were washed away by the river in a matter of days, along with a temple dedicated to Hindu goddess Durga. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              An idol of Hindu goddess Durga stands inside a locked temple before it was washed away by the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. The temple, along with 50 homes in this village were washed away by the river in a matter of days. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              A temple of Hindu goddess Durga rests on land being eroded by the river Brahmaputra seen at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022. A day later, the temple was washed away by the river. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              A villager carries material salvaged from his home before it was washed away by erosion of the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. A report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a New Delhi-based climate think tank, found Assam to be the most vulnerable state to climate change in India. With India ranked the seventh most vulnerable nation to climate change by the non-governmental group Germanwatch, residents of Murkata are on the front lines of the climate crisis. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              Laborers fill geobags with sand which will then be placed along the bank to prevent erosion at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              Ranajit Mandal, 35, the priest of a temple of Hindu goddess Durga sits beside his son and wife, resting in a classroom where they have taken shelter after their home was washed away in Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Apart from being a priest, Mandal is also a farmer and father of two children. "In recent years, we have not been able to do any work because of the river erosion. Each family was given 5,000 rupees ($60) but that is hardly anything compared to what we have lost." (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              Villagers affected by erosion eat a meal together near the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. 50 homes in Murkata village were washed away by the river in a matter of days, along with a temple dedicated to Hindu goddess Durga. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              Women offer prayers at a temple of Hindu goddess Durga, damaged by erosion of river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, about 60 kilometers east of Guwahati, northeastern Assam state, India, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. Two days later, the temple was washed away. The river Brahmaputra has always changed course and reclaimed farmland and villages, but the frequency and severity of the river's destruction has increased in recent years. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              The wife of Ranajit Mandal, a priest of a temple that was washed away, collects drinking water at a school after their house was also washed away by erosion at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. The river Brahmaputra has always changed course and reclaimed farmland and villages, but the frequency and severity of the river's destruction has increased in recent years. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              A tricycle stands at an eroding land by the banks of the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. Murkata village in the northeastern Indian state of Assam is in one of the most climate vulnerable regions of India. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
            
              Ranajit Mandal, 35, the priest of a temple of Hindu goddess Durga stands with his son watching the temple being washed away by the river Brahmaputra at Murkata village, northeastern Assam state, India, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. "The river has washed away everything, and we have no place to go back to now," he said. "Even though we are staying nearby now, if this continues, we'll have no choice but to move away from here, away from the river." (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

GAUHATI, India (AP) — In the 12 years that he has been the priest of a small temple by the mighty Brahmaputra, Ranajit Mandal had never witnessed the river’s fury like this. Not only the temple, but the 50 homes in his native Murkata village were washed away in a matter of days.

“I feel like the earth has given way under my feet now. I have been the temple’s priest ever since it was built, I feel really lost now,” Mandal said.

Mandal, who is also a farmer and father of two, says the erosion of the river means his family has been deprived of income, relying instead on government assistance. “Each family was given 5,000 rupees ($60) but that is hardly anything compared to what we have lost.”

Murkata village in the northeastern state of Assam is in one of the most climate-vulnerable regions of India, according to a report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, a New Delhi-based climate think tank.

With India ranked the seventh most vulnerable nation to climate change by the non-governmental group Germanwatch, Mandal and other residents of Murkata are on the front lines of the crisis.

The Brahmaputra has always changed course and reclaimed farmland and villages, but the frequency and severity of the river’s destruction has increased in recent years.

A 2020 study by New York-based Earth Institute, Columbia University, found that the river’s potential for catastrophic flooding as temperatures rise was being underestimated by nearly 40%.

“The river has washed away everything, and we have no place to go back to now,” Mandal said. “Even though we are staying nearby now, if this continues, we’ll have no choice but to move away from here, away from the river.”

___

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AP PHOTOS: In India, river erosion engulfs villages