Monday, June 1, 2009


Situated in the Northeast part of Assam, Dibrugarth is a quite busy city: apart from being the seat of one of the most prestigious Medical College of India, it is the headquarters of the homonimous District. It is also called “tea city” because it is surrounded by tea gardens where the majority of Assam tea is produced.
Nowadays Dibrugarth lies on the Brahmaputra's bank, but it has not always being the like this.
Before 1950 the river Dibru, which gave the name to the city, used to flow nearby the centre. It was one of the tributary of the Brahmaputra and their confluence was 18 km from Dibrugarth.
On the 15 August 1950 a earthquake with a magnitude 8.6 devastated the area and caused a sudden movement of the Brahmaputra, which begone to flow in the place were before there was Dibrugarth. ¾ of the buildings were washed away with their inhabitants.
After the disaster the Brahmaputra had found its new watercourse and the city had to adapt to the new situation. A barrier was built to protect the centre and the Medical School.

Today the big river with its 10 km of width, is still there, reminding to everybody his power and its unpredictable nature.
We have been there during the dry season and there was a strange atmosphere: from the centre a gentle slope of few metres lead us to the top of the barrier. The river was there, wide and smooth, as it was always been in that exact place, as if that was ITS place.
The element out of place were humans: a thin barrier separates the water from the buildings which are down the water level. On the barrier the poorest had built their own slum: a stripe of straw-coloured bamboo huts separated the green of the water from the grey of the city.

On the bank of the barrier the life sprang out: workers, dhabas (which are small restaurants with food and tea, really common in all India), rickshaw, children and so on: an unbelievable activity!

Later that day, people who live in the centre told us that during the rainy season the river reaches the border of the barrier and sometimes it inundates Dibrugarh.

The question is: where do slum's people go when, during the rainy season his Majesty the River, demands his land?


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