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24 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 24 September, 2018 12:15:40 AM
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Naria: Preventing Padma riverbank erosion

It is essential to prevent further erosion and recover the lands lost in past decades
Md Abdus Sobhan
Naria: Preventing Padma riverbank erosion

The Padma is recognized as a major river in Bangladesh arising from river bifurcation of the Ganges being the distributaries of it. In terms of average annual discharge and classified as the third largest river in the world, only surpassed by the Congo and Amazon. The Padma meanders its way to the Bay of Bengal from the Himalayas through Shariatpur district. It erodes on bank and build chars on the other. Naria Upazila has a total area of 203.58 square kilometers. It borders Zajira Upazila to the west and north, Munshiganj District to the north, Bhedarganj Upazila to the east and south, and Shariatpur Sadar Upazila to the west. The Padma River flows through the northern part of the upazila.

In Perhaps this year the single-worst case of riverbank soil erosion in a hundred years, the padma has ravaged vast swathes of Naria a little more than 22 Km downstream from the Padma bridge project. It has changed abruptly for sure, once relatively calm and quiet in the area, it turned into an all- devouring river in just a few months in a year.

People there are on edge as the Padma changed its course and have been gobbling up village after village, making many well off people penniless overnight.

Recently, more than 5000 families of six unions and one municipality of Naria Upazilla have lost their homes, farmlands, and the hungry tide still now threatens to swallow the important and valuable infrastructures in areas and more than 12 villages of six Unions are under threat.

Naria  upazilla under shariatpur district  had been  on the good side  of the Padma. The river used to erode its left bank but it has started eroding its right bank five to six years ago and people have become worried as the erosion has reached the densely populated   and important business locations.

Impacts of river bank erosion are multifarious namely social, economic, health, education and sometimes political. The first and foremost impact is social i.e., homeless due to land erosion which compels to migrate. After forced migration they suffer from economic crisis, namely loss of occupation and loss of property, and they are at loss of property and sometimes involvement in criminal activities. Identity crisis is inevitable to these migrated people as the belongingness to any particular district or country is often denied. Due to the geographical location of Naira on vast flat plain at the edge of the main river Padma, the livelihoods of the poor people are fundamentally affected by water-related disasters including riverbank erosion, floods, cyclones and tidal surges. Riverbank erosion is one of the most prominent disasters in Naria, caused by dynamic channel shifting of this river.  In this year, 2018, it affects more than 5000 families including the poor, who face significant social hardships, such as loss of homestead, lands, and /or farm crops, and being displaced to the riverine fringe land, char lands, or urban slums.

Therefore, enhanced river bank erosion is essential for the poverty reduction and economic growth of riverine areas at Naira in Shariatpur district.

According to opined by Ainul Nishat, hydrology expert, "The Padma flows of her own accord, you cannot understand Padma with mathematics or science. River erosion is a natural matter. The erosion may continue for two years in this location. In order to take preventive measures, we have to understand the scale of Padma. What works to prevent erosion in the Gorai, Madhumati, or other small rivers will not work on Padma".  According to the online publishing outlet for NASA, hundreds  sometimes thousands of hectares of land erode and fall into the  Padma river every year. Since1967, more than 66000 hectares (256squre miles) have been lost- roughly the area of Chicago" says the report published in August, 2018.

As per remarks of some Thematic Expert Water Management, the Padma Bridge design study has looked at the long term erosion patterns, and the current erosion might be part of it.  The Padma Bridge construction might alter the river course in future, but the river training works is designed to not interfere with the river downstream (and upstream). There were very little impacts downstream estimated. The river stabilization plan presently being prepared contains some ideas about what to do in this area, but is cautious as it recognizes the impact of the Padma Bridge river training works, which are not fully quantifiable.  Think about the impact of the  Bangabandhu-Jamuna Bridge, as we know it now and what was thought the impact would be during the time of design and construction .CEGIS has done the Padma Bridge study, been involved in the formulation of the river stabilization plan, and is conducting annual erosion prediction, so is very qualified in providing advice.   CEGIS is currently updating the morphology for the Padma Bridge.  Some observations can be made  upon inspection  of   changes in total width of the Padma river are without  appreciable delay reflected in changes in  water, sandy and vegetated  char land. Char area are shows a higher sensitivity to the widening process than the water area taken by the low flow channels and both sandy and vegetated areas increases when the width of the river increases.

It is essential for protecting the Padma river banks, to prevent further erosion and allow for land reclamation along the Padma river to recover the flood plain land lost in past decades.  furthermore ,  important  aspects to consider comprise  but not limited to  water  management,  including irrigation demands, canal digging,  flooding,  water quality and minimum flows,  sediment management,  bank stabilization, navigation,  social aspects, like  the condition of the char people, fisheries, ecology,  biodiversification,  institutional , economical, Job opportunities and employment generation aspects.

The Sustainable Development Goals acknowledge the direct relevance of floods and erosion to poverty and suggests flood control and riverbank protection measures amongst others.

Special care is required from the Government side for the   preparedness of padma riverbank erosion protection embankment for preventing from riverbank erosion at Naria on an urgent basis and the attention should be needed to safe the affected people in a sustainable way.

 The writer is a Deputy General Manager of Bangladesh Krishi Bank. He may be reached at: sobhan_bd2003@yahoo.com

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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