Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Dam removal: Forest Department actions leave villages submerged

  • Wreaked havoc on settlements, crops, and roadways
  • 200-foot long, 100-feet high illegal dam
Update : 04 Feb 2024, 08:50 PM

The forest department triggered the flood by removing an illegally constructed fish farming lake dam in Lohagara, Chittagong.

The dam's swift removal inundated vast areas, wreaking havoc on settlements, crops, and roadways. Water infiltration occurred late at night in certain areas, causing inhabitants concern.

Villages in Lohagara and Satkaniaupazila experienced flooding on Saturday, prompting anger from the local administration due to the forest department's unprepared and unwarned actions.

Residents expressed their grievances over the situation.

In January 2021, former Member of Parliament Abu Reza Muhammad Nezamuddin Nadwi constructed a fish farming lake with a 200-foot long, 20-feet wide, and 100-feet high illegal dam in Sonakania near the Barahatia forest.

The dam caused damage to approximately 2,500 acres of forest land, hindering water flow and affecting surrounding cropland cultivation.

Following a report published on Saturday, the forest department initiated the dam removal process.

Assistant Forest Conservator Md Delowar Hossain led 60 forest workers and 30 laborers, removing about 70 feet of the dam by Sunday morning. However, water broke about 30 feet further.

Delowar Hossain said: “We removed around 70 feet, and numerous sections cracked due to floods. The entire dam removal area has yet to be defined. At the moment, no additional dam removal activities are required.”

Following the dam's removal, water from the lake swamped settlements in Sonakania Union and Barahatia, resulting in a flood with washed-out highways, submerged crop fields, and water entering residences. Two sluice gates in Satkania also failed due to the water flow.

SatkaniaUpazilaNirbahi Officer (UNO) Milton Biswas said: “In 2 wards of Sonakania Union, about 60 mud houses were destroyed. Paddy seed beds and grain fields are submerged. Rural roads and culverts are damaged, and livestock is affected. Our Agriculture Officer is assessing the damage, and appropriate action will be taken."

Meanwhile, the local administration blames the rapid deluge on an unplanned decision by the forest department. They allege that the forest department caused the flood without consulting with local authorities and demolished the embankment abruptly.

Lohagara UNO Mohammad Inamul Hasan, criticized the forest department, saying: "They had the dam in their possession, so they could have made a decision. However, they should have consulted for at least three days before taking action Despite our warnings, they disregarded potential complications. I discussed this with the District Commissioner, and we will submit a detailed report."

Responding to the complaint, Assistant Forest Conservator Delowar Hossain countered, “The dam was not taken down suddenly. We gradually released the water, flooding several nearby crop fields. However, because the fields are now empty following the paddy harvest, no serious harm occurred.

The allegations are baseless. A local journalist was present during the dam removal and confirmed no damage, he added.

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