Many farmers have been voluntarily participating in dam repair and reinforcement, but their efforts are mostly in vein
Paddy production is at peril in the Haors and low-lying areas of of the northeast as heavy rainfalls as well as onrush of water from the upstream Meghalaya hills in India have led to the inundation of a vast areas of croplands.
Floods have occurred in at least four of the five districts in the region.
In Moulvibazar, which experiences the most rainfall in Bangladesh, at least 12,800 acres of Boro paddy went under water. Our correspondent Saiful Islam reported that farmers were seen collecting peanuts, pumpkins and yams from the inundated fields.
Our Kishoreganj correspondent Bijoy Roy Khoka reported that the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) had found around 23,300 hectares of paddy fields completely inundated. The DAE is projecting a harvest loss of about Tk291cr there, but locals said the real figure could be double of that.
In the Haor areas of Itna, Mithamoin, Austagram and Karimganj upazilas, this correspondent was told by locals that about 45,000 hectares of paddy had been spoiled till Thursday and the total loss would stand at about Tk625cr.
All big and small rivers, including the Meghna, Kalni, Kushiara, Dhanu, Ghorautra and Dhaleshwari had spilled over the banks following several days of heavy rainfall.
Flash floods are a common incident in the Haor region in the pre-monsoon period, but poor management of the rivers and embankments and the decline in the navigability of the rivers have worsened the situation over the years, locals say.
Most of the paddy fields at Berachapra and Changnoagaon haors in Sutarpara union of Karimganj upazila had been inundated by the spill over of the Duba River, claimed the farmers. Many of them are now putting their last effort to cut the unripe paddy that can only be used as fodder for the cattle.
Deputy Director of Kishoreganj DAE, Md Shafiqul Islam, told the Dhaka Tribune that Austagram had been the most adversely affected upazila in the flash flood.
“The paddy is still unripe in the fields and getting inundated by the spill of river water. We are preparing a list of the flood affected farmers,” said Shafiqul.
In Habiganj, almost 13,500 hectares of almost ripe paddy have gone under water. Agriculture authorities fear that more damage would be done if the rain continues and have asked farmers in the risky areas to harvest their paddy in its current half-ripe state.
The officials told our correspondent, Md Noor Uddin, that the estimated loss at this point was Tk172cr.
Affected farmers allege corruption
In Sunamganj, farmers affected by the flood are alleging that their losses were caused by irregularities and delays in Water Development Board’s dam building works.
Flood entered the region on March 28 and has been growing since. Many farmers have been voluntarily participating in dam repair and reinforcement, but their efforts are mostly in vein.
Our correspondent Himadri Shekor Vodro, who travelled to the Haor areas in Dharmapasha, Jamalganj, Dirai, Shalla, Bishwamvarpur and Jagannathpur, saw many farmers crying in front of their wasted harvests.
Officials said at least 27,000 hectares were already under water.
Farmers said the Water Development Board received a Tk55cr budget in 2016-17 fiscal for the repair and construction of Boro protection dams in 48 Haors in the district. Although this work was scheduled to begin in December, it began in February and therefore most were incomplete when the flood struck.