Saturday, July 4, 2020 | ePaper

Early erosion in Teesta implies ensuing danger in monsoon

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UNTIMELY erosion in Teesta River has recently devoured houses and arable lands in Gokunda Char area of Lalmonirhat. Water Development Board said water in Teesta increased because of heavy rain influenced by cyclone Amphan and seasonal Nor'wester. Erosion started before monsoon will devour more areas during peak hours and unfold sufferings of the affected people. Every year thousands of hectares of land crumble into the rivers, swallowing homes and pushing families away from their rural villages and initiate internal migration to urban centres.
This land erosion peaks during the June-to-October monsoon season, which brings torrential rains and swells the country's rivers. But this year, it has been quite earlier. River grabbing is also contributing largely to this unexpected erosion. In 2019, erosion destroyed the homes of at least 8,000 people in Bangladesh's northern districts during heavy July floods that swept through the region and displaced at least 300,000 people across the country. Erosion has long been a part of life in Bangladesh, which occurs in this massive river delta. River erosion is quietly and permanently altering Bangladesh's landscape. From 1973 through 2017, three major rivers - the Padma, the Meghna, and the Jamuna - have engulfed more than 160,000 hectares of land. Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services forecasts that erosion could eat up another 4,500 hectares by the end of 2020, potentially displacing another 45,000 people.
The government response to erosion has largely been ad-hoc and temporary - sandbags thrown against already crumbling land, for example, rather than forward-looking planning to better adapt to the waterways. The Bangladesh Water Development Board in December 2018 started a $130-million project intended to shield a nine-kilometre stretch of Naria from further erosion. This includes the dredging of waterways to remove excess sediment - which can divert a river's flow and contribute to erosion - and installing sandbags and concrete blocks to buttress the steep riverbanks. The Water Development Board must build dams to protect live and livelihood of millions not for swelling account of a section of officials.

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