Uttam Kamati

Teesta, the transboundary river, originates in Sikkim state in India and courses through West Bengal, and then enters Bangladesh, covering a distance of 309 km before joining the Brahmaputra. It is drying up because of the dual whammy of rubbish and hydropower projects. Over 20 hydropower projects have turned the river into a series of artificial lakes, but at the time of monsoon, it does not spare anyone.

These images are from Mekhliganj, where the river enters Bangladesh. A recent bridge over the river was long in demand by locals and came with a massive cost. The river got narrower. The free flow of the river got obstructed. The free water supply for crops is nearly gone. Now heavy rain creates floods in this region. People living in the dry river bed, and landless people acquire land for making homes in the river bed, and when the monsoon starts, its uncertain land wash away everything, leaving no trace of structure. Then they look for dry land, occasionally they wait on the bank of the river until the monsoon ends. Local authority helps them with tents, food, and other necessary thing. They are predominantly farmers and fishermen. Their whole life spends moving from one place to another in this river.

This environmental problem is not the only problem. Some parts of the river are unaffected by the water, and few people live there for a long time. These lands are vested land, and the government of India decided to start some projects. Now those who are living there have to move. Many people are living on the bank of the river with this continuous uncertainty, and few migrate to other states in search of jobs.