Immediate steps to tackle river erosion needed
As floodwater starts receding, erosion by almost all the major rivers, including the Padma, Jamuna and Meghna, has assumed alarming proportions, especially in Faridpur, Chapainawabganj, Khulna, Sirajganj, Munshiganj, Manikganj, Barisal and Bogra, rendering thousands of people homeless. According to a New Age report on Sunday, around 1,500 houses at Alatuli union in Chapainawabganj disappeared in the Padma in the past two weeks and Hajiganj Bazar of Char Bhadrashan upazila in Faridpur while a two-kilometre area of the highway in the district headquarters is under threat of erosion by the river, and the Jamuna devoured about 2,000 acres of cropland in different upazilas in Manikganj. Also, the Jamuna has engulfed the Chouhali upazila parishad office and its auditorium in Sirajganj since Friday and washed away a bridge at Sonatala upazila in Bogra. Moreover, the rivers Rupsha and Bhairab have already destroyed about 1,600 bighas of farmland at Rupsha upazila in Khulna, while the Kirtankhola and the Sugandha continue to devour Char Baria and Char Kaowa in Barisal apart from threatening the Dhaka-Barisal Highway.
Regrettably, the authorities concerned are reportedly yet to come up with adequate measures to rehabilitate the victims, let alone prevent further erosion. With river erosion in the abovementioned areas being a regular phenomenon round the year, particularly during monsoon, one has reasons to believe the government functionaries responsible for dealing with the issues regarding disaster management or river erosion might have taken the incidents in question for granted. One has also reasons to believe that the lack of immediate rehabilitation activities mentioned earlier may be attributable to the general apathy of the incumbent Awami League-led government, like its predecessors, towards the people belonging to the poor and marginalised groups in particular.
In a country like Bangladesh known as a living delta created by silt carried by the rivers, including the ones mentioned earlier, crisscrossing the country, river erosion is anything but preventable. It is, however, also true that there are technologies proper application of which, complemented by appropriate river management, can mitigate the problem to a significant extent. The government needs to realise that river erosion destroys thousands of hectares of farmland across the country every year posing threat to, among other things, our national food security. At the same time, it leaves thousands of people ruined every year forcing them to migrate to different cities, especially the already-overpopulated capital Dhaka, giving rise to various social problems. Overall, the country can no longer afford something like glossing over the river erosion problem.
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