River erosion management: Prime task for BD
River erosion every year destroys households of some 50,000 people, who comprise around 30 to 40 percent of the homeless in the country. The Daily Observer reports that, thousands of families are becoming homeless paupers overnight as the mighty Padma River has been devouring localities after localities in Naria upazila of Shariatpur district almost every day since June this year. Houses of some 5,000 families, large swath of arable land, government and private establishments including 20 educational institutions, seven clinics and hospitals, and over 700 business houses have already been lost in the bed of river.
The erosion of the riverbanks near Bashtola, Sadhurbazar and Mulfotganj Bazar areas in Naria upazila took serious turn at the beginning of this week. Almost 40 per cent of the 300 year-old Mulfotganj Bazar, the business hub in the surrounding vast area, has also been claimed by the river, which was two-kilometer away from Padma three months ago. The 50-seat Naria Upazila Health Complex, which was the main health service point for people, and another private medical, Life Care Hospital and Diagnostic Centre are situated in Mulfatganj Bazar.
The private medical as well as the main building of the public hospital has already been devoured by Padma. The rest 12 buildings of the 50-seat medical hospital are about to enter the gorge of the voracious river at any time. Twenty educational institutions, six private clinics and diagnostics centres, many mosques and temples, 20 km pucca road, 10 bridges and culverts, vast arable lands and millions of trees have been erased.
A shadow of darkness is hovering over the future of kids with the destruction of their educational institutions. Now the question is, what Bangladesh Water Development Board is doing?
Damages and losses due to river bank erosion each year in the country could be minimised significantly through disseminating bank erosion forecasts. CEGIS has developed methods to predict morphological changes, including bank erosion of the Jamuna, Ganges and Padma rivers. The methods are being used since 2004 to predict bank erosion and morphological changes of these rivers. If the bank erosion forecasts could reach people living on river banks through local administration, it would be a step in the right direction to minimise losses from the erosion. The government should give more emphasis on saving rivers and people living along river banks while the ministry has made river erosion management its prime task as the impacts of river erosion have worsened in recent times.