POST TIME: 4 May, 2019 12:42:21 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 4 May, 2019 07:52:41 AM
Frail dams add to people’s plights
Hundreds displaced as 2 Patuakhali embankments collapse
Rafiqul Islam Azad, Dhaka

Frail dams add to people’s plights

Frail age-old dams and collapse of embankments along the coastal belt have been identified by experts as the main reason of damage to lives and properties during times of natural calamities like cyclone and floods. Country’s leading environmentalists and water experts say that the disaster management preparedness of government and non-government organisations to protect lives is almost satisfactory but observed that thousands of coastal people incur a huge loss due to the collapse of embankments and dams during major floods and cyclones.

The experts also termed regretful and shameful the collapse of two dams in Patuakhali yesterday that flooded a number of villages in Kalapara hours before cyclone Fani reaches the country. They recommended identifying and punish those working at the water development board who were responsible to take care of the dams.

Our Patuakhali correspondent reports that at least five villages of Kalapara upazila in the district were flooded yesterday as two dams on the Andarmanik River were damaged due to impacts of super cyclone ‘Fani’ that was battering India yesterday.

Contacted, Deputy Minister for Water Resources AKM Enamul Haque Shamim admitted that he is informed about the damage of dams in Patuakhali. “The concerned water development board officials are looking into the incident and working on it. We will take necessary measures to repair the old dams and embankments to make them sustainable,” he said.

Dr. Atik Rahman, Executive Director of Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, said people along the coastal belt suffer major damages due to the collapse of dams and embankments despite preventive measures taken by the government.

“What were the people concerned doing other than repairing the weak dams in the coastal areas? What did they do throughout the year? They should be brought to book as many villages were flooded well ahead cyclone Fani crosses they county,” he said.

Dr. Rahman thinks many people who do not want to go to the cyclone shelters as they fear losing their belongings also face damages during the major cyclones.

He opined that the people in the vulnerable areas should be taken to the cyclone shelters following the existing law to reduce the losses.

Replying to a query, he said the velocity and frequency of natural calamities prove the impacts of climate change in the atmosphere.

Prof Ainun Nishat, a pioneering water resource management and climate change expert, said damages to dams and embankment are regretful and shameful as the people concerned know that the dams and embankments are in fragile condition. He thinks there is a shortage of cyclone shelters in the country and that the issue is severe particularly in Khulna, Satkhira and Bagerhat districts.

Prof Nishat said each climate incident should be analysed to facilitate proper measures in future. “It is regretful that we failed to do it after Sidr and Aila. We should take lessons from other countries as to how they face such calamities,” he observed. Replying to a question, Nishat said cyclones in April and May is not an unusual incident in Bangladesh.