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A nation underwater

  • Published at 06:05 am August 1st, 2016
  • Last updated at 06:10 pm August 2nd, 2016
A nation underwater

Climate experts predict medium-range floods this season in Bangladesh. The floods caused by a sharp rise in water levels in the Teesta, Surma, Brahmaputra-Jamuna, Padma, and several other rivers have already marooned nearly 100,000 people in many areas throughout 15 districts, including the north and north-eastern regions of the country.

Thousands of people are leaving their homes and taking shelter on the embankments, raised roads, schools, and other places.

Many areas of Sirajganj, Jamalpur, and Sunamgonj, with some 712 villages of 55 unions in nine upazilas of Kurigram, are now under water.

It has been reported that more than 500,000 people have been marooned in Kurigram as the flood situation in the district has worsened further, due to the onrush of upstream water and incessant rainfall for the last few days.

The onrush of upstream water from across the border of Assam and the heavy rainfall are the reasons for the recent flood. Some Indian dailies reported that monsoon rains in river catchments continue to cause flooding in the Indian state of Assam.

Combatting flood is a great task. We cannot control it fully but we can minimise the detrimental effects of flood by adopting preventive measures

Over the last few days, the monsoon has brought heavy rain to parts of sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam Meghalaya, and Nepal as well.

India’s Metrological Department (IMD) has issued a red level (highest) warning for heavy to very heavy rainfall in those areas over the coming days. The Brahmaputra is at, or above, danger levels in Assam.

It can be predicted that floods in our country would get worse. As many as 57 rivers are flowing through Bangladesh down to the Bay of Bengal.

Out of these, 54 rivers are coming from the north and north-east regions of India.

Almost every year, sub-Himalayan Nepal, Bhutan, and India are inundated due to excess water coming down from hills and mountains coupled with the rainwater.

At the same time, the north and north-east parts of Bangladesh are affected by floods.

The principal causes behind these are climate change and global warming.

The world has been experiencing a gradual increase of temperature for the last few decades.

The impact of global warming has been seen in the greater Himalayas, which is known as the Water Tower of Asia, covering approximately 7 million square-kilometres; the general area of high mountains and plateaus in Central, South, and Inner Asia.

The Greater Himalayas are the source of 10 of the largest rivers in Asia: Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze, Yellow, and Tarim. Collectively, these basins provide water for about 1.3 billion people.

Throughout the Greater Himalayas, water melts from permanent snow and ice, and from seasonal snow packs, and is stored in high-elevation wetlands and lakes.

Melting occurs mainly in high summer when this coincides with the monsoon. The Greater Himalayas, as a whole, is very sensitive to global climate change or global warming.

Glaciers, ice, and snow cover 17% of the Greater Himalayan region, and are receding more rapidly than the world average. The rate of retreat has increased in recent years -- increased melting will result in increased discharge.

Thus, water-related hazards and risks are omnipresent in the Greater Himalayas, and landslides, debris flows, and flash floods are projected to increase in frequency in the uplands (300–3,000m), with riverine and coastal floods likely increasing in the lowlands.

The 1988 flood was predicted to occur due to flash floods which originated from the high-elevated wetlands and lakes of the Himalaya.

In June 2013, a multi-day cloudburst centered in the Himalayan region of North-Indian states, which caused devastating flood and landslides, becoming the country’s worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami.

It is true that destroying forest lands and making upper-stream dams, hydro-power plants, etc are breaking the eco-system in the Himalayan regions.

A study said that northern India has experienced increasingly heavy rainfall in June since the late 1980s.   

Combatting flood is a great task. We cannot control it fully but we can minimise the detrimental effects of flood by adopting preventive measures.

Necessary forecasts should be given to alert people. Equipment should be arranged for each family or individual.

The government can send relief to the remotest places through various agencies.

The health department should proceed to help the affected people.

Embankments, sluice gates, drains, canals must be constructed permanently.

It has been seen that the relief goods are misappropriated and not distributed properly. The government must monitor this.

Bangladesh is one of the most climate change-vulnerable and disaster-prone countries.

The rivers of this country are facing tremendous environmental anomalies.

They overflow during the rainy season but shrink in other seasons.

Floods in our country are directly or indirectly related to sub-Himalayan countries like India, Bhutan, and Nepal.

An understanding should be made to protect the eco-system in the regions to minimise the risks of flash floods, and to share the water resources as per international laws.