The government had taken steps to protect the Kuthibari from river erosion in 2018 by building an embankment but it did little to help the villagers
Erosion in River Padma during the peak monsoon has threatened the Kuthibari, the historic country house of Nobel Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore, at Shelaidah in Kushtia district.
The erosion along the river’s bank near Kuthibari and its adjacent area has taken a serious turn and the residents of the area are passing days in fear of losing their land and homes to the mighty Padma.
Earlier, the government had taken steps to protect the Kuthibari from river erosion in 2018 by building an embankment but it did little to help the villagers.
According to the Kushtia Water Development Board, the authorities concerned have built a 3,720 meter flood protection dam, involving Tk 167 crore in the fiscal year 2016-2018. Of the total dam, 2,720 meter built in Sultanpur part of Koya union while the remaining 1000 meter in Shelaidah portion.
The authorities named the project as “Kuthibari protection dam”.
Local people alleged that the authorities concerned have built the dam excluding the 1.5km area of Kuthibari under the project. The project stretching from Shelaidah Kuthibari and adjacent areas remains in the paper but actually no dam has been built on the main portion of the Kuthibari.
Every year, when monsoon comes, erosion takes a serious turn in Padma River putting Shelaidah Kuthibari, Komorkandi, Kandabaria, Zahedpur, Belgachhi villages at risk of erosion.
The residents of the six villages are passing their days amid fear of erosion.
During a recent visit to the erosion prone area, this UNB correspondent learnt that the bank of the river stretching from the house of one Jalal Sardar in Komarkandi to the house of Jala Pramanik has been damaged.
A number of houses and crop land were also devoured by the river.
Ummat Ali, son of Mahtab Uddin Sheikh, said: “Once I had 15 decimals of land but now I have only seven decimals of land as the river swallowed my land. If the authorities do not take any steps immediately, I will lose everything.”
Abbas Ali, 65, a resident in the area, said: “We are so poor and we have no place to go. The Padma may devour my dwelling house anytime.”
He also demanded a dam in the area immediately to protect his house.
Kulsum Begum, another resident, said: “I can’t sleep at night due to the roar of the Padma River. We are living here in fear of losing everything in the river.”
Salauddin Khan Tarek, chairman of Shelaidah Union, said: “Every year Padma devours many houses and crop land during monsoon and this year we are facing the same situation. If the authorities concerned do not take any steps, then a vast track of agricultural land and six villages will be swallowed by the river anytime.”
Mohammad Mukhlesur Rahman, custodian of Shelaidah Kuthibari, said: “The Kuthibari, the heritage site and the country house of Rabindranath Tagore, is one kilometre away from the Padma River. But no dam was built on the main portion of the house, leaving it to a serious risk of erosion. If the government fails to take any steps now, the next generation will be deprived of opportunity to visit the house of the poet.”
Bitan Kumar Mandal, Kumarkhali Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), said: “Kuthibari is a name of history and it is the asset of the state. We should protect the dam at any cost to save Kuthibari.”
He also assured of taking the issue with the Water Development Board and take necessary steps.
Kushtia Water Development Board Executive Engineer Mohammad Afsar Uddin, said: “Necessary steps will be taken to protect lands from erosion.”