Disaster floods create a crisis in Bangladesh

July 27, 2020

Original article: July 27th, 2020 Dhaka Tribune

The floods, now in their third week, have been intensifying in some areas, with river erosion slowly encroaching on the flood-affected areas, adding to the miseries of the people.

The flood situation has taken a devastating turn in most of the northern districts in Bangladesh, laying waste hundreds of lives, farmlands and homesteads.

The floods this year have not spread across much of the country as in previous years, but they have lasted longer, which is a sign that the nature of the natural disaster is “changing” at a time of climate change.

The floods, now in their third week, have been intensifying in some areas, with river erosion slowly encroaching on the flood-affected areas, adding to the miseries of the people.

In Jamalpur, the water levels of the Jamuna and Brahmaputra were stable till the filing of this report at 11am on Monday. Yet at least 10,00,000 people are still marooned in the district.

Many flood-affected people were seen taking shelter on bridges and culverts along with their farm animals.

In Rajshahi, an unremitting rise in the water level of most rivers in the Ganges Basin, triggered by an onrush of water from the upper catchment for the last couple of days, further worsened the flood situation in the region, leaving 12 persons dead.

Of the total 30 river points monitored in the Ganges Basin regularly, water levels increased at 19 stations on Monday, aggravating the flood situation in the low-lying areas.

The local office of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) recorded a rising trend of water levels at almost all points, like Pankha, Rajshahi, Hardinge Bridge, Talbaria, Goalunda and Mawa, in the 24 hours ending at 9 am today, said Mukhlesur Rahman, Superintending Engineer of BWDB.

In Naogaon, fish worth Tk3 crore were washed away in the district as at least 200 ponds have been submerged in the recent floods, aggravating the miseries of the fishermen of the area.

The rivers damaged most of the embankments, waterlogging the vast area, said Polash Chandra Debnath, upazila fisheries officer.

In Munshiganj, the Padma river was flowing at 78cm above the danger mark at Bhagyakul point in the district on Monday.

According to district administration official data, 164 villages have been flooded in 21 unions of four upazilas. 385 families have taken shelter in 57 shelter centres and 32 thousand families have been affected by the floods.

Assistant Engineer of Water Development Board Rakibul Islam said the flood situation might turn worse in the coming days even though it is now almost stable.

“We have already placed more than 30 thousand sandbags in the river to save the riverbanks,” said the official.

Assistant Director of Agriculture Extension Department Md Shah Alam said, “Altogether 65 thousand hectares of arable land have been submerged by the floodwaters.”

In Pabna, the water level of Jamuna was flowing 76cm above the danger mark on Monday and persistent rains were turning the situation even worse for the flood-affected people.

Although the Padma river is steady, the flood-hit people of the district are under a severe river erosion threat, say the local DAE sources.

In Madaripur, erosion by the rivers Arial Khan, Padma, Kumar and Palordi has taken a serious turn at different points under Shibchar, Kalkini, Rajoir and Sadar upazilas of the district with the increase in their water levels.

Besides, Madaripur town protection dam is also under threat of erosion.

Erosion by the Padma and the Arial Khan rivers has devoured over 500 houses and three educational institutions in the district. About 90,000 people of 33,700 families have been marooned in four upazilas, and 3,000 people have taken shelter at 18 centres.

According to the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), the rivers the Padma and Arial Khan were flowing 71cm above the danger mark in the last 24 hours till Monday.

The Padma River erosion has taken a serious turn at Bandarkhola, Kathalbari and Charjanajat areas under Shibchar Upazila.

In Tangail, the water levels of the Dhaleshwari, Jamuna, and Jhinai rivers have been significantly swelling above the danger mark, leaving at least 2,00,000 people marooned in the district.

Like most flood-hit districts, consistent flooding has caused huge damage to the agricultural region, leaving more than 10,000 hectares of cropland underwater.

River erosion will intensify the damage caused by the floods and it will begin again, soon after the waters recede in the area, said Sirajul Islam, executive engineer of BWDB.

In Sylhet and Sunamganj, the three phases of floods have badly damaged the roads in nine upazilas of Sunamganj and two upazilas of Sylhet district, disrupting communication in the division and causing vast sufferings to people.

According to officials of the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) and Roads and Highways Department (RHD), around 1,210 km of roads in the districts have been destroyed by floods, beginning on June 25.

Sylhet LGED Executive Engineer SM Mohsin said though floodwaters have been declining, around 275 km of roads were still submerged in water. He added that the loss could be around Tk 200 crore. “The roads will be repaired after the water recedes,” he added.

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