Monday, 5 June, 2023

Many embankments in Khulna turn vulnerable

KHULNA: Fear has gripped the residents in the coastal areas of Khulna, Bagerhat, and Satkhira as most of the embankments have turned fragile over the years, thanks to the negligence of the authorities concerned, reports UNB.

Their worry grows when cyclone is developed over the Bay of Bengal or weather department predicts any cyclone or tidal surge in the coastal districts.  

Recently the Indian Meteorological Department has issued a warning about the possible formation of a cyclonic storm called ‘Mocha’ in the southeast Bay of Bengal, which has sparked fear among them.

The cyclone is likely to make landfall on the eastern coast of India and possibly in parts of Bangladesh between 7-9 May, it said.

Most of the embankments in Koyra upazila of Khulna are very vulnerable, with some only having two to three feet wide earth embankments, said locals.

They said the risks are high as water may enter the localities due to collapse of dams in different parts of the area, putting the houses and lives of many at risk.

After Cyclones Amphan and Yash, broken dams were repaired at 21 places in Koya Upazila, and 20 kilometres of damaged embankments were repaired with soil and sandbags, according to local office of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB).

However, currently, renovation work in more than seven kilometres is underway, but 9 to 10 km embankment is still at risk.

Residents of different areas, including Koyra No. 6,Koyra Ring Dam No. 4, Ghatakhali, Harinkhola, Madinabad Launch Ghat area, Mathbaria, Koyra No. 2, Hogla, Gazipara, Golkhali, Haztkhali, Jorshing, and Maheshpur, are worried as 12 kilometre dam area is in a vulnerable condition, according to locals and WDB officials.

Furthermore, eight sluice gates for water supply in Kapotaksho and Shakbaria rivers are lying inoperative, and Nayani and Sutia Bazar-adjacent sluice gate of Shakbaria river are on the verge of collapse.

Locals blame the authorities’ indifference in repairing the vulnerable dams and they have urged the officials concerned of the areas for a permanent solution.

Hemlata Mandal’s house is situated beside the embankment of Shakbaria river.

“This dam collapsed twice before. Despite the construction of a larger dam later on, it collapsed a few days ago,” he said adding that the dam collapsed because it was built with sand.

Sardar Nurul Islam, chairman of Uttar Bedkashi Union Parishad (UP), said, “Dams were built using new technology in Gazipara and Gatiragheri areas of my union, but they collapsed within a year.”

He urged the govt officials concerned to find a permanent solution to the issue.

The dam of Shakbaria River in the Katkata area of North Bedkashi Union is also at risk due to severe erosion.

Landslides have caused about four kilometres of embankment to erode from North Bedkashi to South Bedkashi.

In some areas, the soil on both sides has shifted, narrowing the embankment.

Mozaffar Hossain, a member of Ward No. 8 of South Bedkashi UP, expressed concern saying, “Shakbaria and Kapotaksha flow on both sides of our union.” The erosion of these two rivers will soon leave the Union as an isolated island.

A decade ago, the distance between the two rivers was more than two kilometres, he said.

Moni Shankar Roy, a resident of Nayani area and a member of Ward No. 2 of Maheshwaripur UP, blamed the authorities for their indifference to repairing the dangerous dam. “We fear for our safety due to the dangerous dams and water bodies, but the authorities are procrastinating,” he said.

Chairman of Maheshwaripur UP, Shahnewaz Shikari, said that the dam collapse every year, leaving some residents destitute.

He also warned that high tides in the river could cause significant damage if the dam breaks.

The issue has been raised with BWDB officials numerous times, but a permanent solution has yet to be found, he said.

He stressed the importance of river management and suggested the use of paving blocks as an alternative solution to repair the risky dam.

Koyra Upazila Chairman SM Shafiqul Islam said that Koyra’s permanent embankment construction project has been approved, and it needs to be implemented on an urgent basis.

In this regard, BWDB Khulna Deputy Assistant Engineer Md Romit Hossain Moni said that they have submitted the list of vulnerable dams in Koyra to the higher authorities, and work will be done on an urgent basis before the monsoon.