Paddy farmers in the Haor areas of Netrakona district are facing a devastating loss due to the flash flood that has inundated Boro paddy fields in the low-lying areas.
Around 73,070 hectares of paddy fields are submerged in flood water in the district’s Madan, Mohonganj, Khaliajuri, Kendua, Atpara, Barhatta and Kalmakanda upazilas, destroying around 421,980 tonnes of paddy, said Netrakona district Agricultural Officer Bilash Chandra Pal.
“This paddy would have produced at least 281,320 tonnes of rice, the current market value of which is nearly Tk956.49 crore,” he told the Dhaka Tribune on wednesday.
Moreover, oxygen deficiency in the 42 haors has killed nearly 1,181 tonnes of fish, causing an additional loss of Tk24 crore to 16,528 fishermen, according to government estimates.
These losses amount to nearly Tk1,000 crore in Netrakona alone.
Flash flood has severely affected the low-lying areas of Sunamganj, Sylhet, Habiganj, Moulvibazar, Kishoreganj and Brahmanbaria districts as well.
In Netrokona, several hundred thousands of people whose livelihood depends on paddy and fish farming will have to suffer massive amounts of loss because of the flood, caused by heavy rainfall and onrush of water from the upstream Meghalaya hills in India.
The flood has also created acute shortage of poultry and cattle feeds, forcing the owners to sell their farm animals at dirt-cheap prices.
Although the rain and the onrush of water from the upstream are the main culprits, the locals also blame the authorities concerned for not finishing the construction of Haor embankments in time, which is why the embankments gave way to the pressure of water and caused the flood.
In some areas, the authorities did not even start the construction work, the locals claimed.
They accused government officials of corruption and demanded strict action against them.
When contacted, Water Development Board’s Netrakona Executive Engineer Abu Taher denied the corruption allegations and said the construction of Haor embankment progressed as it should.
“We have already paid the bill for around 60-65% of the job to the contractors,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
The district administration is distributing relief among the flood-affected people, but it is nowhere near enough to cover all the affected upazilas, claimed several locals.
Some high government officials have visited the affected areas to assess the damage, sources said.