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River erosion taking toll

Published : Monday, 26 December, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 273

River erosion taking toll

River erosion taking toll

A news report, lately published in this daily on river erosion causing damage of Bagha Upazila under Rajshahi District has deeply worried us. This clearly manifests absence of systematic and constructive planning to deal with the natural crisis.

The unabated erosion of the river Padma has so far devoured houses of 250 families, inundated five chars and forced relocation of a number of education centres in last five months.

We fear, the remaining families, markets, mosques and various educational institutions on the river bank, clearly under threat, may vanish anytime soon - unless preventive measures are immediately shored up. Already thousands of panic stricken people are reported to have left their houses in pursuit of safer places.

River erosion is a perennial environment concern in Bangladesh. Severe storms, higher water level and faster flows and streams are some of the factors that loosen the soil of river banks.

We wonder why are human settlements and structures allowed within such close proximity of big rivers even after knowing well the risks and hazards. Besides loss of cropland, this has significant adverse socio-economic impacts like displacement, internal migration and unemployment. The river erosion programme, largely focused on building embankments hardly serves the purpose, since most embankments are poorly maintained and ill managed. These embankments often fail to withstand sudden onrush of water. We have witnessed this from the recent image of all-devouring floods across the country.

Moreover, the altered flow of the river concerned also affects the river ecology. It is observed, following river erosion induced human migration, plight of displaced people know no bounds due to loss of agricultural land.

Erosion hit dwellers near the river Padma immediately requires adequate supply of food, pure drinking water and shelter.

We urge the government to immediately launch a rehabilitation programme for all river erosion victims including those of Padma. The economy, already hit hard by Covid-19, when the prospect of employment in urban areas is narrowing day by day, it will be difficult for the affected to survive without a timely aid from the government.

No matter how gigantic the task is for water management and checking erosion, the concerned authorities must embark upon appropriate plans and actions. In the backdrop of climate change impacts, the situation is bound to aggravate. It is high time the Water Development Board and others in the local administration rolled up their sleeves to start the efforts to save people facing the threat of river-erosion.

Water Development Board, on which such management significantly lies, must redouble its efforts to address the plights of river erosion victims.

It must introduce a modern disaster management mechanism to give utmost importance and priority to flood and erosion forecasting.

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