In Bagerhat, the embankments were either washed away or severely damaged in four out of its nine upazilas
Though locals in Bagerhat and Khulna managed to escape massive losses by Cyclone Fani, the damage it caused to river protection embankments in the two coastal districts have spread panic among residents.
In Bagerhat, the embankments were either washed away or severely damaged in four out of its nine upazilas.
The scenario was marginally better in Khulna as embankments in only two upazilas—Koyra and Dakope—were damaged.
However, neither of the district administrations could provide the exact extent of losses incurred.
Visiting several spots of both the districts, the Dhaka Tribune found locals complaining of negligence from the authorities concerned in fixing the problem.
Bagerhat residents fear losing their homes
Md Lokman, a resident of Kanainagar village in Bagerhat's Mongla upazila, feared that his home and shop might soon be devoured by the Pashur river.
“After the wind speed soared fast on Friday night, the embankment close to my residence started to collapse due to rough currents in the river,” he said.
There were also fresh cracks on the embankment, approximately 500 metres of which had already been washed away.
“The embankment which was some 10 feet wide fell victim to erosion so badly that many of the establishments adjoining it are at risk of being washed away by the river,” Lokman added.
Another Kanainagar resident, Halima Begum, who was heading for a local cyclone shelter, said she was unaware of her fate.
She said there was no choice but to leave her home along the embankment as it might collapse anytime.
Khan Jahan, an elderly person living at Bidyar Bahon village in Bagerhat's Mongla upazila, said they were under a serious threat of losing all their belongings if any tidal upsurge occurred.
“We approached local public representatives to draw attention towards our problem, but to no avail,” said a disappointed Jahan.
Khulna homes flooded
Around 1:30pm, parts of a 500-feet stretch of a local embankment collapsed at the Banisanta Union Parishad in Dakope, Khulna,.
The locality adjoining the embankment flooded and the locals resorted to piling up sacks filled with sand on the damaged area.
Amal Kumar Mandal, a local, said his home flooded on Friday night.
“Erosion in the area has been a regular phenomenon here, but our union parishad chairman seems reluctant in repairing the embankment every time it collapses due to strong currents,” he said.
Amal feared that the area would go under water if another storm hit the coast—or even if there was heavy downpour.
Hironmoy Das, a member of the union parishad, said they were working hard to stop the river water from entering the locality.
"However, at least 200 families have already been affected by erosion," he added.
Around 3:30pm, parts of the embankment were removed to release the water stuck inside the area into the Pashur river.
Authorities unsure about exact figure of losses
Referring to the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), sources at the Bagerhat district administration hinted that several metres of the embankments in parts of the district had been affected.
Bagerhat’s Additional Deputy Commissioner Md Jahirul Islam said: “In Sharankhola upazila’s Bogi area, an embankment was damaged. A similar incident was reported in Doibohati of Morojganj upazila where a 60-metre stretch was affected.”
Similar complaints also came from Morolganj upazila’s Bishkhali area and the Gopalkathhi area of Sadar upazila, he said.
"However, the situation is under control,” he claimed
Mohammad Helal Hossain, deputy commissioner of Khulna, said around one kilometre of the embankment in Koyra and Dakope upazilas had been affected.
When asked about the details of the damage, he said, although they had received information from all nine upazilas of the district about the losses, they could not "provide an exact figure".
Nahid-uz-Zaman Khan, executive engineer of the BWDB in Bagerhat, claimed that 10 to 15 families were affected after an embankment was damaged in Sharankhola upazila.
“We have fixed the damaged sites, and things here are absolutely safe and secure now,” he told the Dhaka Tribune at 6pm yesterday.
However, a contradictory statement given by his deputy, Faruq Ahmed, revealed that parts of the embankments in Mongla, Rampal, Morojganj, and Sharankhola upazilas had suffered a serious blow.
“We do not have details about the damages caused to the embankments because all of those do not fall under our purview,” he said.