Riverbank erosion devours a large number of homesteads and vast tracts of cropland every year and thus makes thousands of people penniless. Rivers have a natural tendency to change their courses almost constantly and find it easy to actually change direction because of the alluvial nature of the soil. It is due to this natural phenomenon that poverty follows a cyclic pattern in this deltaic plain – while a group of poor people somehow come out of poverty bracket, another group slides down to it due mainly to riverbank erosion. Many of the things lost can be regained, even lost health may sometimes be recuperated but croplands and orchards, once devoured by rivers, can hardly be gained back soon.
Riverbank erosion is mainly a rainy season phenomenon. It takes serious turn particularly when flood water starts receding. But it has already assumed an alarming proportion in some parts of the rivers basins though monsoon is yet to set in. We came to know from a front page story of this daily and an adjoining photograph yesterday that the mighty river Meghna has already devoured vast tracts of land. The panic-stricken people are passing sleepless night for fear of being washed away with all their possessions.To only say that riverbank erosion in this country is purely a natural phenomenon is half of the truth. A human factor is also responsible for the repetition and alarming extent of erosion. On the one hand, authorities have so far taken only provisional measures to address this damaging trend but have hardly taken any sustainable scheme to give it a lasting solution. On the other hand, whatever schemes the authorities took from time to time were implemented in a slipshod manner, thanks to sneaky deals between a section of government officials and construction companies. The embankments thus constructed usually fail to withstand even the weakest onslaught of flood water. Unless the construction of dykes and embankments is freed from the grip of this unholy nexus, riverbank erosion will continue to repeat and wreck havoc on the life of people living on the banks of the rivers.
Strategic plans should be chalked out for a lasting solution to this recurring phenomenon.