Dyke repair brooks no delay

Permanent steps to protect haor crops a must

Published : 05 Mar 2024 09:03 PM

A crop protection embankment on the river Mahasing under Shantiganj upazila in Sunamganj district collapsed leaving farmers gripped with panic and uncertainty. The construction work of this embankment has remained incomplete.

Most of the embankments meant for protecting boro crop in haor areas of the district still remains in poor shape, leaving the region’s only crop of the year vulnerable to damage during floods. People now fear that flash flood may damage their Boro crops due to poor progress in the repair and construction work of the dams and sudden collapse of the embankment, according to media reports.

Since the late spring, panic starts gripping the haor people as they fear heavy rain coupled with onrush of water from upstream may cause moderate floods in their region (north-east parts of the country).  The downpour coupled with hilly waters can breach the risky embankment and leave their region a trail of devastation anytime.

Low-lying areas of different parts of Sylhet, Sunamganj, Habiganj and Moulvi Bazar district are inundated due to onrush of hilly water and swelling of rivers caused by torrential rain every year. Water enters many low-lying areas and haor areas due to the rise in water levels of many rivers.

Many points at different crop protection embankments constructed in the haor region have been damaged and reduced in many ways due to floods and downpour especially between the month of April and November since the country’s independence in 1971. Besides, a large number of severe cracks have been found in different portions of the embankment, intensifying the worries.

The heavy rain and onrush of hilly waters breach embankments, submerge the habitats, wash away boro paddy filed, fish farms and damage other crop lands in different low-lying area of the haor districts. As these existing embankments have already lost their capacity they cannot protect the haor people’s lives and property effectively.

People now fear 

that flash flood may 

damage their

 Boro crops

Construction of a permanent climate-tolerant sustainable and strong embankment in the region is indispensable right now. The government should arrange emergency funds and engage local governments for the maintenance of the embankments.

The haor people depending mainly on Boro crops, feel worried about protecting their paddy from flash floods that may occur any time. So, their lives and livelihoods largely depend on embankments and the people of the region want sustainable embankments rather than food support.

The flash flood destroys the boro crops especially in seven haor districts- Kishoreganj, Netrakona, Sunamganj, Moulvibazar, Habiganj, Sylhet and Brahmanbaria every year. The farmers of these areas are the worst sufferers as flash flood pushes them into extreme poverty every year. These areas experience flash floods due to out of season rainfall and an onrush of water from the upstream every year. Crops, especially boro paddy, on vast areas are either damaged or washed away between April and May.

We apprehend flash flood may occur in the low-lying areas of these districts due to onrush of upstream waters coupled with moderate to downpours anytime. Apart from damaging crops, people living there may also face serious difficulties due to flash flood water like the past. 

The government must repair vulnerable embankments on an emergency basis. It will also have to enhance participatory embankment construction with the  collaboration of local authorities. 

Earlier, four projects were taken up to construct sustainable embankments in these areas. But due to lack of appropriate design and construction of embankments the flood-prone districts remain fully unprotected. Keeping the devastation caused by the flash flood in mind, the authorities concerned should remain ready with all-out measures to face any catastrophe.