Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Monday said the devastation left by last week's flash flood and landslide has taken the state back to what it was ten years ago.
"There is so much we need to do now. We have moved back ten years in our development programme due to the flood as major areas have been devastated by the floods.
Everywhere we went there were only sad stories to tell," the Chief Minister said after touring by car.
Severe cloudburst lasting over 72 hours last week had left a trail of devastation in the entire state with the western Garo Hills the worst affected.
The devastation that has followed the cloud burst in the state has left 52 dead and properties worth several hundred crore of rupees damaged, Deputy Chief Minister Roytre C Laloo said.
The deaths occurred mostly in the Garo Hills region and the damaged properties included road, houses, livestock and agriculture worth about Rs 2000 crore, he said.
Sangma said, "This is the worst we have faced in Garo Hills and the devastation that has proceeded after is unprecedented in terms of scope. Most of them managed to survive because they were adept at water navigation," he said.
During his on-road tour today to Chibinang, Rajabala, Bhaitbari (Selsella) in West Garo Hills, Lukaichar, Kalaichar and the town of Mahendraganj in the South West Garo Hills, the chief minister was disturbed by the extent of devastation.
"We did aerial surveys earlier but the feeling of ground was missing. So we decided to do a tour of the affected areas by car. There has been so much sorrow and pain in the places we visited today," he said.
A densely populated Bholarbitha village with around 300 households near Chibinang in West Garo Hills is almost gone.
Eighty per cent of the village was completely washed away rendering many people homeless. The village was situated close to mighty Jinjiram River, a tributary of Brahmaputra.
The erosion and slit deposit has changed the river route, which now passes through this village.
Spread over 2 km, and about 450 km away from here, a secondary school in the village saw huge damage with the playground completely disappeared.
In Chibinang area, eight people lost their lives in the recent flash floods and the chief minister and Speaker AT Mondal visited the village.
The villagers were seeking immediate relief and demanded a stronger embankment. The plain belt area of Garo hills is prone to flood.
"To build a stronger embankment in the plain belt area of West Garo Hills, we have to relocate the people, who live adjacent to river. We have to convince people to live in safer areas, so that embankment can be built," Mukul Sangma said.
The old embankment in the area has breached along several places while a new embankment in the area is yet to be completed.
Meanwhile, several flood hit victims have complained to the Chief Minister that they have not received adequate relief materials, food and medicines.
Chief Minister, who took note of the complaint, has asked the deputy commissioner to look into the matter and sought additional seven days of general relief to the people and if required increase it by another week.
He has asked the block officials to meticulously and carefully assess the damage to households in all the affected blocks.
The chief minister also issued instruction to officials of PWD roads to register FIR and cases against persons illegally involved in stone quarries that has affected the ecology in the hills and affected the course of the rivers.