After effect of cyclone ‘Bulbul’

Extensive damages from saline water intrusion


Although the cyclone Bulbul has crossed without causing any major damage of life, but saline water intrusion that it left along the coastal districts of Bangladesh is a major concern. Experts said that as the saline water that entered during the cyclonic storm on Sunday may have caused huge damages to the coastal ecosystem and livelihood, including food and fish farming.

Tidal water in Khulna, Satkhira, Barisal, Bhola, Noakhali and Chattogram has caused extensive damage to crops and fish, officials. According to central Flood Monitoring and Information Centre (FMIC), strong tidal waves caused breaches in at least 30 points in the coastal areas flooding huge inland areas with sea water. There are at least 10,000 km of embankment in the coastal areas.

It was reported that at least five weak points in embankment of Bolshwar and Pigera Rivers of Patuakhali and Pirojpur districts suffered damages allowing wsaline water to rush inland mosytly flooding crops and fish farm. In the island district of Bhola, Charfashon Upazila, Char Mozammel of Manpura Upazila, Char of Kalatali and Char Borhanuddin of Tazumuddin Upazila have been submerged in 45 feet of water.

Tidal water has flooded several villages of Shyamnagor upazila of Satkhira district and Koyra upazila of Khulna district where huge areas of crop land and ghers or fish enclosures were flooded causing immense losses to local businessmen. Similar situation of rush of tidal waves causing saline water intrusion in Noakhali and Lakshpur districts, in Anwara and Bashkhali upazilas of Chattogram districts.

Abu Bakkar Siddik, Executive Engineer and In charge of Central Flood Information Center f Bangladesh Water Development Board BWDB told this correspondent, “Till Sunday afternoon it has been reporting that saline water infiltrate occurred in 12 points of Satkhira, three points each in Khulna and Pirojpur districts and one each in Patuakhali and Bagerhat district.

In Chattogram region, significant amount of saline water entered in Gahira union of Anowara upzila said Sheik Jubair Ahamed, Upzilla Nirbahi Officer of Anowara. He said, “Due to weaker points in the embankment, saline water is entering in the areas regularly, but due to cyclone Bulbul saline water has caused extensive damages.”

Prof Ainun Nishat, eminent Environmental expert told Bangladesh Post, “Due to the 15 feet-high embankment along the coast, the tide has been blocked. But in areas where the tidal water enters through damaged embankments, salinity will remain in water for years.” He said, “Currently, it is not easy to get out of the water once it is stuck for various reasons. The lesson to be taken from this cyclone is that the embankment cannot be kept weak, so that the tidal waves can be stopped.”

Sea water has about 35 grams of salt per liters of water, almost 60 times more than the 0.6 grams of salt per liters standard for the drinking water in coastal areas of Bangladesh. There are fears that both groundwater and surface water will become increasingly affected by salt as tidal waters from sea and fresh surface flows towards the sea where population pressure leads to higher levels of abstraction.