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14 September, 2018 01:02:35 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 September, 2018 08:30:07 AM
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Padma erodes vast area in Shariatpur

RAFIQUL ISLAM AZAD in Dhaka, ABUL BASHAR and NURUL AMIN ROBIN in Shariatpur
Padma erodes vast area in Shariatpur
A portion of the new building of 50-bed Naria Upazila Health Complex in Shariatpur has been devoured while the old building is about to go into the river bed as erosion by mighty Padma River has taken a turn for the worse in the district. The photo was taken yesterday. Photo: Nurul Amin Robin

A vast area with about 200 buildings, including hospital, clinics, mosques, temple and business enterprises, in Naria has been eroded as the mighty Padma continues to devour its right bank in Shariatpur district, leaving hundreds of people homeless. Locals said at least four villages and three bazars in Naria upazila have been completely eroded. The villages are Char Naria, Char Jujira, Shaheber Char and Boshaker Char. The bazars are Bashtola Bazar, Sadhur Bazar and Wapda Bazar.

River erosion in Naria and Janjira upazilas of the district has been occuring in the rainy season for the last several years. But this time, erosion by the Padma has taken a severe turn. The locals said over 20 square kilometres of land in Naria have been eroded in the last three years. The erosion began some two and a half months ago, but the severe erosion began on September 3 and it is still continuing, they added.

Homeless people have taken shelter in schools, mosques and temples, while some of them are living under the open sky. They are waiting for help and seeking rehabilitation. Locals said about 20,000 people have become homeless due to erosion in the last five years, but the government did not rehabilitate a single family. Kartik Chandra Dhali, a former union parishad member, said he lost major portions of his home with 120 decimal of land at Uttar Kedarpur in Naria on Tuesday.  “I did not get time to relocate my home and save trees worth about Tk. 3 lakh. The river eroded 80 per cent of my home within a short span of time,” he added.

Kartik is now living on a part of his land in the open. The land is being eroded everyday and he does not know his fate. He also said three mosques, one temple and four two-storied buildings have been eroded only in his village over the last several days. The affected people want the government to take immediate measures to rehabilitate them permanently, he added.

The former UP member, who used to give relief to the poor people, said he has been given 30kg of rice from the Union Parishad and dry food from local lawmaker Col (Retd) Shawkat Ali and Awami League (AL) organising secretary Enamul Haque Shamim.

Another villager said some of the well-off victims went to different areas and are living on rent, many of them are living on low land, hiring land from others and the rest of the victims are passing through a miserable life as they are living in mosques, temple and schools or in the open and crying for help.

He also said the damage from the erosion is larger than previous years as the river earlier eroded mostly agricultural land, but this time many buildings, hospitals, bazars have been eroded and many are still at risk.

Executive engineer of the Bangladesh Water Development Board in Shariatpur, Shafiqul Islam, said a three kilometre stretch of the river bank, varying in width from 90 metres to 350 metres, have so far been eroded by the Padma. He also said they have already dumped about 1, 30,000 thousand geo bags to control and slower the erosion.

The BWDB official warned that the erosion might continue till the end of this month. He said the government has already approved a project worth Tk. 1,097 crore to protect the right bank of the Padma at Naria and Janjira, work of which he expects would start in November.

Upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) of Naria, Sanzida Yasmin, said at least 5,081 families have lost their homes due to erosion this year. Of them, 3,500 were given 30kg of rice each, 3,200 families were given dry food, while 700 families were given two bundles of corrugated tin and Tk. 6,000 each, she said.

She also said they are working to bring all the affected people under government assistance and taking up projects to rehabilitate homeless people on government khas land in the upazila.

Prof. Nazrul Islam, an urban and environmental expert, said it is difficult to evaluate the situation and the nature of the mighty river is very complex.

The river has been continuing its erosion over the years and this would reduce land and create shoals. The government should take necessary measures, he added.

He also suggested that no pucca structures should be built near the river to avoid damage. Major rivers like the Brahmaputra-Jamuna and the Ganges-Padma are rising—a trend that may continue in the next 72 hours, the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) said yesterday. If this happens, the situation in Shariatpur would aggravate.

IK

 

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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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