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Dhaka Tribune

1.5m people in danger as embankments in 158 points of southern region damaged

Majority of the water resources of the country flows through the rivers of Barisal division

Update : 10 Apr 2023, 06:12 PM

At least 1.5 million residents of southern region are in danger as embankments in 158 points are damaged or cracked.

Majority of the water resources of the country flows through the rivers of Barisal division. 

At the same time, a significant part of the fishery resources is extracted from the rivers of this region. 

As a result, the small and big rivers of the division are one of the sources of national economic driving force. But there is also a grim reverse picture as many people lose their homes, crop lands, socio-economic and educational institutions as it gets eroded by the river every year.

Although the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) often put geo-bags to prevent erosion, it is insufficient in the face of the severity of erosion.

As water level and pressure of these rivers from upper streams to down streams rise in monsoon, the water level of these river rises during summer and rainy season every year, said Mujibur Rahman, divisional chief engineer of Water Development Board, Barisal Office.

The Water Development Board sources has identified 158 such erosion prone areas in six districts of Barisal division. At least 1.5 million people will be affected if anti-erosion measures are not taken in these places before the coming monsoon. 

Out of these 158 points, the points at coastal Patuakhali and Bhola districts are most at risk. WDB sources revealed that within the division 10 dams in Barisal district, 12 in Pirojpur, 10 in Jhalokathi, 57 in Patuakhali, 26 in Barguna and 43 in Bhola are risk prone. 

Mujibur Rahman, chief engineer of Water Development Board Barisal division, said the river banks of Manpura under Bhola, Hijla, Mehendiganj under Barisal, Taltali upazila under Barguna, Galachipa and Rangabali upazilas, Payra river, Agunmukha river under Patuakhali districts, are the most affected by erosion.

The official said: “We have asked for an allocation of about Tk67 crore to prevent erosion in more than 150 weak embankments identified by the department.”

Besides, Tk736.83 crores have been proposed for the establishment of a permanent plan to prevent erosion in Baushia and Harinathpur areas of Hijla upazila and a project of Tk50 crores has been proposed to protect the Barisal airport area facing the erosion of Sandhya river in Babuganj upazila.

According to the dredging department of BIWTA, among the 30 places that have taken initiative to dredge the river near river ports of Barisal, Patuakhali, Bhaganiya, Applekathi, Kobai, Hijla-Maulvirhat, Miar Char, Khackdon river, Lalbagh of Sripur Laharhat-Veduria Channel of Barisal, Ilisha Ghat, Bhola Kheyaghat, Lalmohan of Bhola, Rangabali, estuary of Kalabadar River of Patuakhali, Nazirpur, of Pirojpur, Amtali Ferry Ghat of Barguna.

In 2020, the climate-based organization Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services conducted a survey of 1,500km of 31 river courses in the southern region. 

In their report, the terrible picture of river erosion has also come up saying that at least 42 million cubic meters of sediment should be removed from the surveyed waterways. 

Abdul Hakim, a resident of Bhuterdia village on the bank of Sugandha river in Babuganj upazila, said: “Our land has been lost and a new township has been built on the other bank. We have become destitute by river erosion.”

Yunus Kazi, a resident of Andharmanik river in Latachapali union of Kalapara upazila of Patuakhali district, said: “We constructed a house on the bank of the river two years ago. That house often submerged by the overflooding of Andharmanik river. Two years ago, my three-year-old son also drowned in it.”

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