To slow down the damage done by erosion, geo-sandbags were dumped in two kilometres of the rivers’ embankment
Around four hundred families in four upazilas of Madaripur were forced to leave their homes. Three rivers in the district have been eroding and destroying their homesteads since the rainy season this year.
Water Development Board (WDB) sources in the district said a nine kilometre embankment of the Padma, Arial Kha, and Kumar rivers have eroded. The areas that fell victim to the erosion are: East Alipur, Shahebrampur Launch Terminal, Khasherghat, South Bashgari, and all of Kalkini upazila, including Nilambradi, Mahendradi, Haridashdi, Gangkandi, Shangkardi and Kalibari of Rajoir upazila. Jajeera, Habiganj, Ukilbari, Mohisher Char, Ghunshi Shirkhara, Kotbari, and Sreenadi of Sadar upazila and West Shannashi Char, Boheratala, Dattapara, Shiruil, Nilkhi, Magurakhanda, Kathalbari, Kajirshura, and Bandarkhola of Shibchar upazila, which sustained the most damage due to the erosion.
To slow down the damage done by erosion, geo-sandbags were dumped in two kilometres of the rivers’ embankment.
Locals in these areas are living under inhumane conditions and are daily struggling to meet their basic needs.
Along with other essential infrastructures such as clinics and markets, eight school buildings have gone under water due to the erosion. The schools include Kajir Shura Government Primary School, Narikel Bari Govt. Primary School, Khah Bandarkhola Govt. Primary School and others.
Emarat Fakir from Shangkardi village in Rajoir upazila said: "I have to provide for my family driving a van. Some men last year forcibly cut out sand from my land. This year my house and four of my relatives' homes were taken away by the river. I am worried about how I will afford a new home."
Karimon Nesa, from Kathalbari union in Shibchar upazila, said: "We are living by the side of the road with our cattle and goat. My children have no scope of going to school."
The same sentiments were expressed by locals from other upazilas and all of them agreed that initiatives required to deal with the measures are not enough.
Sources said two projects are awaiting approval at the Planning Ministry, which could bring permanent solutions for the conservation of river embankments in the district.
"The Arial Kha River Conservation and Dredging in Shibchar upazila" project will cost at least Tk335 crore and is estimated to begin within three months. The construction of the dam will protect 6.3 kilometres of river embankment and dredging will be executed on 50 kilometres of the river.
Another project for the Arial Kha river and Kumar river embankment conservation in Madaripur Sadar, Rajoir, and Kalkini upazila, is planned. The government estimates that project completion could take at least four years after approval within this year.
Shiruail Union Parishad Chairman Md Atikur Rahman from Shibchar upazila, said: "Due to the Arial Kha river erosion, hundreds of families in Pashchim Kakair village of Shiruail union have lost their lands and homes though the government has been providing relief to some relief-card holder locals who are victims of erosion."
Madaripur Water Development Board (WPB) Executive Engineer Partho Pritom Saha said: "It can take up to two months to get approval for the 6.3 kilometre dam construction and we are hopeful that another project will be approved within this year."
Madaripur Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate Md Wahidul Islam said: "The government has already supplied relief to people devastated by the river erosion. We will build homes for some of the locals and WPB teams have been dumping geo-sandbags for emergency damage control.