The Arial Khan River, which crosses the district through the area, is undergoing a re-excavation project
At least 3,000 acres of cropland and five villages are underwater. Dam sluice gates are malfunctioning because sand miners, to dredge the Arial Khan River in Belab upazila, Narsingdi, have been storing sand close to the sluice gates.
The Arial Khan River, which crosses the district through the area, is undergoing a re-excavation project. The project is administered by the 24 Construction Engineer Brigade of the Bangladesh Army and the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) for over eighteen months now.
The government took the initiative to restore navigability and to prevent waterlogging on the rivers. The project was inaugurated in May, 2018.
Joint Bangladesh Army and BWDB projects are also re-excavating the Haridoa, Brahmaputra, Pahari, and tributaries of the Meghna, Old Brahmaputra, and Brahmaputra rivers, from April 2018 to December 2019.
Profiting from this excavation, sand traders and landowners are collecting these dredged sands and holding it near the sluice gates and canals used to drain excess water.
According to locals, villages and thousands of acres of cropland are now being flooded, since the water cannot drain properly through the sluice gates due to sand being stored close to the sluice gates on public property.
On a visit, the areas of Char Chayet, Char Kashimnagar, Char Latifpur, Rejai Latifpur, Raja Rampur were seen filled with stored sands and the sluice gates and canals had collapsed from the excessive sands.
These villages are facing an untimely flood and thousand of acres of paddy, banana, sugarcane, cucumber and other crops are under water along with numerous houses, educational institutions, and streets.
Due to the flooding, waterborne infectious diseases like diahorroea, dengue, and malaria are spreading, and people are in severe distress trying to save their children in this uncalled for flood.
Under these circumstances, locals say the district administration was informed and asked to solve the matter several times, but they did not pay any heed to them.
Frustrated, locals recently protested against the ill managed dredging with a demonstration in knee-deep water.
Chairman of Binnabaid Union, Md Goulam Mustafa Golap said that farmers are facing a huge challenge to cultivate new crops like Ropa and Amon as the land is under water and the whole agricultural sector of this region is getting affected.
He said: "I hope the authorities will listen to us and save our lands."
When asked, sand traders, Barju Mia, Khalek Mia, and Aftab Mia, said they are storing sands on their lands, not on public property.
Barju said: "The sand are stored on my land. If the sluice gates get blocked because of it, I cannot compromise my business for that."
"They can dig the government's land to improve the drainage system but I would not let them dig mine," he added.
Delowar Hossain and Shamsul Haque, two farmers from Char Chayet village said they have informed the upazila administration and concerned chairman who made promises but no results have been seen yet.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Shamima Sharmin assured a prompt solution to the matter and said: "We have made a probe committee to inspect the area and take necessary action to solve the flood situation."
"Punitive action will be taken against all illegal activities," she added.