World's largest river island, Majuli, becomes India's first island district - Firstpost
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World's largest river island, Majuli, becomes India's first island district

Majuli, a riverine island in the Bramaputra river in Assam is all set to become India's first island district, which also recently became the world's largest river island, according to a report in India Today

On Friday, Majuli replaced Brazil's Marajo to become the world's largest river island in the Guinness Book of World Records, according to The Times of India.

With a population of 153,362  that is a mix of multiplicity of tribes, Majuri first came to limelight during the state assembly elections, when BJP's chief ministerial candidate and incumbent CM, Sarbananda Sonowal filed his nomination from the state. It was one of Sonowal's poll promises that Majuli will be resurrected from its situation of long neglect, and will be granted the district status, according to News 18Moreover, in a first, Sonowal also addressed a cabinet meeting from the riverine island on Thursday, after which the announcement of granting district status to the riverine island was made public. majuri will become the 35th district in Assam.

An aerial view of a Majuli, while it was flooded by the Brahmaputra. Reuters

An aerial view of a Majuli, while it was flooded by the Brahmaputra. Reuters

Speaking at the occasion, the chief minister said, "Majuli will become the nerve centre of governance in the state and people will have to help in realizing the true potential of Majuli,"

"The long cherished dream of the people of Majuli has been fulfilled today. However, to give a fillip to the growth momentum of the district a comprehensive approach is required," he said, adding that the government is committed to propel Majuli into the "fast growth trajectory."

The step is also being seen as a move to further  promote 'Awesome Assam', the state's newly launched tourism logo. Promising to promote 'Brand Assam' at a global platform, Assam Tourism Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said that places like Kamakhya and Majuli have huge tourism potential and the state government is committed to realise it to the fullest.

However, once the top seat of neo-Vaishnavite culture propagated by the 15th century saint, Srimanta Sankardev, Majuli has long been a victim of sheer administrative neglect. According to the News 18 report, almost 60 percent of the land on the quaint island has been washed away by the Brahmaputra. Moreover, it remains largely cut-off from the world by the Brahmaputra for a good part of the day and the entire night. Waterways is the only mode of transporttation which the people use to commute to work, but even boats ply only between 8 am to 4 pm.

Moreover, annual floods wreck the island because of its geological position. Located at the confluence of Brahmaputra and Subansiri river, flash floods are common in the area.

Another report from The Times of India reveals that the island is under constant threat of being washed away completely as the mighty Brahmaputra is constantly eroding its coastline. According to the report, due to the large-scale erosions, about 10,000 families have lost their homes and there is no space on the island to rehabilitate them. They now make do with temporary shelters close to the embankment. According to News 18, Majuli has shrunk by almost 60 percent in area since 1950 when it stretched to 1,245 square km.

However, with administrative focus back on the Majuli, its residents can perhaps expect some development as a reward for electing the state's leader.

The cabinet meeting, which was held at Majuli for the first time outside Guwahati, had decided that a Centre of Water Resources would be set up in the island to suggest remedial steps for the recurring flood and erosions there.

The Central government is also mulling building of two bridges to connect the island to the mainland. Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had announced construction of a 122 km road connecting Majuli, besides two other bridges on the Brahmaputra. The island currently is separated by 2.5 km from the rest of Assam. A university is also proposed in Majuli which will enable research and advanced studies of art and culture of the state, Sonowal said.

People are also expecting that the current government will make a strong case to attain the long-pending Unesco 'world heritage' tag will now be expedited. According to the Unesco website the request was first filed by India in march 2004, but has since failed to earn the 'Cultural heritage' tag.

The announcement of awarding Majuli district status also coincides with the 90th birth anniversary of doyen of Assamese music and Dada Saheb Phalke awardee Bhupen Hazarika. "If we want to usher in an era of development in Majuli, everybody has to render their concerted efforts. Emergence of Majuli as a full-fledged district on the birth day of Bhupen Hazarika is indeed a matter of joy, pleasure and pride", Sonowal said on the occasion, stating that it was a tribute to Hazarika.

Paying rich tributes to Hazarika, the Chief Minister said, "his contribution is evident in every aspect of our life and his role towards giving Satriya dance (of Vaishnavite culture) national recognition as a classical dance form is really laudable"

With inputs from PTI and IANS

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