Friday, June 21, 2024

Bangladesh loses over 3,000 acres of land

Erosion by border belt rivers
Feb 10: The havoc caused by the rivers Surma and Kushiara along the Sylhet border changing their course is pushing the Bangladesh border inward, resulting in the country losing more than 3,000 acres of land. According to the 1974 Mujib-Indira Border Treaty, midstream of border rivers defines the boundaries of the two countries.
“We have been losing our land as frontier rivers Surma and Kushiara continue to change their directions due to severe erosion at 26 points of the rivers, changing the original border,” AKM Shafiqul Haque, executive engineer of the Water Development Board (WDB) in Sylhet, told The Independent.
About a thousand acres of land of  the Kushiara river bank at Haider bond, Laksmi Bazar, Gojukata, Urir Pur, Majorgaon, Purba Jamdohor, Piaipur, Shukra Kandi and AmolShid, Sultanpur, Senapatirchak and Manikpur in Zakiganj upazila are now part of the Indian state of Assam due to the erosion by the Kushiara and Surma. Two hundred and fifty acres of land in Ballah, Uttarkul, Munshibazar, Rosulpur and Dighli on the Surma banks in the upazila have also been washed away into India, he added. Another official source said more than 3,000 acres of Bangladesh territory have already gone to India due to the erosion caused by the two rivers. Locals, however, estimate that the loss is no less than 4,000 acres. AKM Shafiqul Haque said that river erosion on the Bangladesh side continues unabated as dams and groyens upstream in India are causing the rivers breaking into Bangladesh territory as embankments along the Sylhet borders are mostly unprotected.
While the erosion is getting worse day by day, the border river protection and development project plans protective works on the Kushiara banks. It has successfully furnished the first phase of the project in Sylhet but the same project in Rajshahi, Feni and Chapainawabganj could not work due to protest launched by India.  The second phase of the project has not been approved yet. The Indian side of the rivers, however, is well protected against erosion, an official source said. The Indian authorities in 2005 had agreed to allow the Joint Rivers Commission to conduct a study on the Surma, Kushiara and Barak. WDB officials, however, said no headway was made due to India’s reluctance. Experts fear that the Surma and the Kushiara would accelerate changing their courses along the greater Sylhet region when upstream hydroelectric dams at Tipaimukh on the Barak river in India is completed.
They also said the mega project might destroy the region’s agriculture.
An official said about 26 points on the riverbanks needed immediate revetment work to stop the two rivers from eroding away Bangladesh territory further. Erosion on the Bangladesh side gives way to new chars on the other side which Indian villagers occupy in no time with the help of the BSF, locals said, adding that residents of Harinagar in India now own the land of Oligarch that was once a Bangladesh village. A senior official of WDB in Sylhet said that if the government fails to take quick protection measures, the country would lose more land this season as the rivers, silted up upstream, are driving down volumes of rain water into Bangladesh.
When contacted water resources secretary Wahidu Uz Zaman said that he was not aware of the incident.
“I do no know anything about it. I have no report on the Kushiara river” he said.
Talking to The Independent Syed Afsar Ali, Superintendent Engineer of Bangladesh Water Development Board, who is in-charge of the Sylhet division, said that the issue would be raised in the ensuing JRC meeting.

Original article on The Independent

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