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Meghna River erosion: People in Lakshmipur at risk as dam awaits completion

  • Published at 01:32 am July 14th, 2019
Meghna River erosion-Dhaka Tribune
Locals say in the last ten years, thousand acres of fertile land, 15 markets, 35 schools, and other important infrastructures were eroded away by the Meghna River Dhaka Tribune

The construction work began in 2013, and was expected to be completed by 2017

The project that was undertaken to construct a permanent dam to cope with Meghna River erosion in Lakshmipur has been delayed due to lack of government approval.  

The construction work began in 2013, and was expected to be completed by 2017. While the first phase of the construction was completed in 2014, the remaining two phases could not proceed as per plan due to the lack of coordination among the government agencies concerned.

Locals say in the last ten years, thousand acres of fertile land, 15 markets, 35 schools, and other important infrastructures were eroded away by the Meghna River.

According to Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) sources, the government passed a project of building a 35 kilometre dam in 2013 to protect Ramgati and Kamalnagar upazila. The project budget was initially estimated at Tk1,350 crore for the three phase construction.

Until now only six kilometre of the dam has been constructed in the first phase, spending around Tk198 crore. The second phase of the construction is awaiting government approval.

The project proposed 13 kilometre of the dam to be constructed in the second phase, and 14 kilometres more in the third phase. But the initial project design had to be modified repeatedly, as more and more land was eroded away by the Meghna River every year.

Once an affluent farmer, Kamal Hossain has lost all of his property due to the river erosion, and had to relocate his home five times. Now he has taken shelter in the house of one of his relatives. He said Meghna is being eroded from all sides, and the damage is more severe in the rainy season.

Saheber Hat Union Parishad (UP) Chairman Abul Khayer said because of the river erosion he had to relocate the UP office for the fourth time in three years. 

Six schools, three madrasas, and over 10 thousand locals lost their homes to the erosion in the same time period, he added.

Char Kalkini UP Chairman Saif Ullah said: "Already two wards and five educational institutions have been submerged by the river water. If the dam is not built soon, the whole union will go under."

Convener of the organization Abdus Sattar Paloan said: "Almost 50% of the Kamalnagar, and Ramgati upazilas were washed away in twenty years. If emergency measures are not taken, along with the dam construction, the very existence of Kamalganj upazila will be compromised."

Lakshmipur BWDB Engineer Md Arifur Hossain said: "We conducted a survey over a 15.5 kilometre area as part of the second phase. When we get the survey results, a design will be proposed to the authority, and the construction will begin soon after."

While visiting the eroded area on April 12, Honorable State Minister Zaheed Farooque said: "It takes a little time to process the development project in the ministry. The government is very sincere about building the dam."