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Flood situation worsens in Sunamganj

Flights at Sylhet airport cancelled for 3 days from Friday

Published : 17 Jun 2022 09:44 PM

Heavy flooding in Sylhet and Sunamganj continues to remain grim. The flooding in the two districts has surpassed all past records in recent memories so that the army troops have to be deployed to deal with the situation. 

The Army personnel have already launched operation to rescue people marooned by the flood there. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the local administration to take support from the Bangladesh Navy as well, said Md Mosharraf Hossain, divisional commissioner of Sylhet. 

All the educational institutions, including the Shahjalal University of Science & Technology (SUST), in the flood-hit areas have been closed, while this year's Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and equivalent examinations were also postponed due to the second round of the flooding in Sylhet region.  

The flood situation is deteriorating at a time when people of the region are still reeling from the shock of the first round of flood that happened in just two to three weeks ago. The second round of flood this year has made the situation more challenging to respond. 

Electricity supply has been halted to avoid accidents in many areas of the two districts amid the flood. The plane operation in MAG Osmani International Airport has also been suspended due to the massive flood. 

Floods of higher magnitude caused by heavy rain upstream in Meghalaya-Cherrapunji‎ in India have surpassed most records of the past. Heavy monsoon rains and incessant onrush of water from the upstream over the last days inundated vast areas of Sylhet and Sunamganj districts, affecting lakhs of people. 

Kaniaghat Gowainghat, Jaintapur, Companiganj, Sylhet Sadar, Zakiganj and Bishwanath upazilas of Sylhet district are the most affected along with parts of Sylhet city, while Sunamganj Sadar, Chhatak Dowarabazar, Bishwambarpur and Tahirpur upazilas in Sunamganj district along with Sunamganj district town completely inundated by floodwater. 

Locals said that flooding is worse than the ones they experienced in 1998 and 2004 and also in May this year. “We have faced a massive flood last month. This flood surpassed all the floods in recent memories. Thousands of people are facing untold sufferings due to the heavy flooding,” said Mudassir Ahmed Member of Kanjar village at Jaintapur upazila. 

Manjur Ahmed, a local journalist and a resident of Gowainghat upazila, told the Bangladesh Post that many of the houses at the upazila have been submerged. Thousands of people at the upazila became helpless. Many people are heading to shelter centres but they need urgent aid to be carried to the centres, he added. 

Gowainghat UNO Tamilur Rahman said that floodwater has entered many houses. They are working to help the flood-hit people, he added. 

The floodwater has damaged many roads in Sylhet district. As a result, road communications of Gowainghat upazila and some other upazilas have been disconnected with the district headquarters. 

Crops of several thousand hectors of land have been damaged at the upazila and other upazilas. Many fish farms have been washed away. Farmers are facing acute food crisis and being affected by many waterborne diseases. There is also seen an acute cattle-feed crisis. 

Jahangir Hossain, deputy commissioner (DC) of Sunamganj, said that the severity of the flood situation has surpassed all past records. Alongside many other parts of Sunamganj district, almost all areas in the district town have been flooded. 

Markets in the heart of the Sunamganj town came under floodwater. Abdur Rahim, a resident in the town, said that they have never been knee-deep water in their area where they reside. 

Sirajul Islam, president of shop owners’ association in Sunamganj town, said, “Even in 2004, I did not see so much water in a day. In the last 20 years, the people of Sunamganj have not seen such a terrible flood situation.”

A flood information centre has been opened at the DC office of Sunamganj.  Seventeen shelters were opened in Chhatak, 16 in Daurabazar and 10 in Sunamganj Sadar.

The administration will help all those who are unfit to stay in their homes in this flood situation, by bringing them to shelters and providing temporary food assistance, including dry food, said Sunamganj DC Jahangir Hossain. 

According to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center (FFWC) of WDB, the water of the Surma river was flowing 108cm above the danger level at Kanaighat point in Sylhet on Friday, while 70cm above at the Sylhet city point and 120 cm above at the Sunamganj town point.

Jahurul Islam, executive engineer of WDB (Water Development Board) in Sunamganj, said that the water level of Surma was 70 cm above the danger mark at the Sunamganj point during a major flood in 2020. On June 17 in 2022, the Surma’s water was flowing 120 cm above the danger level.

The other rivers of Sylhet region are also flowing over danger level. The Sari river was flowing 23cm above danger level at Sarighat in Jaintapur upazila of Sylhet, while Puratan Surma river was flowing 2cm above the danger level at Dirai in Sunamganj.

Mijanur Rahman, a resident of Mirboxtula area in Sylhet city; and Hafez Zillur Rahman, a teacher of Tanzimul Ummah Madarasa who lives at Uposhor area, said, “Only some days ago, we experienced a flash flood and now another blow, which has turned out to be more devastating. Many areas in Sylhet city are now under floodwater.” 

They also said that in many areas in the two districts, no mobile call is possible due to the power cut. It is a horrible situation here. The people in have been experiencing a power outage since Thursday. 

According to the Power Development Board (PDB) in Sylhet divisional office, at least 1.8 lakh consumers are without electricity in different upazilas of Sylhet and Sunamganj. Meanwhile, at least 82,000 customers in some upazilas, including the flood-ravaged Gowainghat and Companiganj in Sylhet under Palli Bidyut Samity, are without electricity. Residents in almost all upazilas in Sunamganj under Palli Bidyut Samity are without electricity, according to the Palli Bidyut Samity office.

Md Arafat-al-Majid Bhuiyan, sub-divisional engineer of Sylhet PDB, said that the power supply in Sylhet city may also be cut off any time as the water has already entered the Kumargaon power plant, on the outskirts of Sylhet city.

Due to the flood, Kumargaon 132/33 KV grid substation, which supplies electricity to the whole of Sylhet, is about to be shut down.

Meanwhile, sources of the Power, Energy and Mineral Resources said that the authorities have disconnected the power supply after flood waters entered the Chatak and Sunamganj grid substations, Kumargaon Substation is also at risk due to rains. The authorities may close this substation at any time. 

The floodwater also entered the Sylhet MAG Osmani International Airport. Hafiz Ahmed, manager of airport, said that flights have been suspended. 

Meanwhile, a group of 21 students of Dhaka University, who went to Sunamganj on a tour on June 14, are stranded there due to the sudden flood. They were staying at a hotel in Sunamganj Sadar upazila on Friday afternoon. 

The DU administration has contacted the stranded students and was taking steps to bring them back to Dhaka, said DU Proctor Dr AKM Golam Rabbani.

Shoaib Ahmed, a third-year student of the university’s journalism departm who is among the stranded, posted on social media about their situation and asked for help. “The highway is submerged under water, all bus services to Dhaka are suspended. We're safe. We want to get back to Dhaka soon,” he wrote.

Alongside vast areas in Sylhet district, parts of the Shahjalal University of Science & Technology (SUST) were inundated. The SUST authorities have postponed all classes and exams till June 25.

The decision was taken at an emergency syndicate meeting of the university on Friday morning.

Due to another spell of flooding in the span of one month, some 342 educational institutions were closed in Sylhet and Sunamganj districts.  

Abu Sayeed Md Wadud, district education officer in Sylhet, said that a total of 290 primary schools, high schools, and colleges in Sylhet were closed. Besides that, another 52 educational institutions closed in Sunamganj.

According to the DC offices of Sylhet and Sunamganj districts, water has reached up to the shed of people’s homes in many areas. People are trapped in their homes due to lack of boats. Against this backdrop, the decision to deploy soldiers was taken to rescue the flood-affected people.

Md Mozibur Rahman, deputy commissioner (DC) of Sylhet, said, “The situation is getting dangerous and the Army responded to our call to help stranded people in the flood. We are trying our best to rescue people and to extend relief to them.”

Members of Bangladesh Army were deployed on Friday to manage the heavy flooding in Sylhet district. An ISPR press release says that the deployment comes following a request from the civil administration.

Apart from the Army, members of the Bangladesh Navy and other law enforcement agencies have also lent their hands to accelerate the rescue operations, Anwar Sadat, additional deputy commissioner (general) of Sylhet told the Bangladesh Post.

Alongside Sylhet and Sunamganj, the flood situation may worsen further in in Netrokona and some other parts in the country today (Saturday). The Teesta River could overflow the danger level. Low-lying areas in Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Rangpur and Kurigram may also flood due to the rains.

Saeed Ahmad Chowdhury, senior meteorologist at the Sylhet weather office, said that there was a possibility of heavy rainfall in Sylhet and Sunamganj till June 20-21. Besides, Cherrapunji and Meghalaya in India were also likely to see downpours. Against this backdrop, the flood situation may also for the next three days, he added. 

The water level will continue to surge in all major rivers in the Brahmaputra-Jamuna and Ganga-Padma basins, including the Surma, Kushiyara, Teesta, Dharla and Dudhkumar today and tomorrow, says Met office.