The geophysical formation of this land and constant changes in it is inseparable from the rivers that created it. Not that the physical structure of the land, once formed, remained unchanged over the entire period; river currents constantly eroded banks and gave it new shapes. Thus the history of floods and the attendant changes in the topography of the land is as old as the formation of the land itself.
Given the fact, flood control was supposed to get due importance in our adaptation and infrastructure development programmes. But, sadly enough, instead of strategic plans to tackle this damaging calamity, we notice piecemeal and sporadic actions like throwing sandbags and concrete blocks in an effort to check erosion only. Hardly anything sustainable is done to solve the flooding problem once and for all.
During the current year’s monsoon, water levels at 81 river stations monitored by the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) have marked increase while 6 stations recorded falls.
A total of 168 millimetres (mm) rainfall was recorded at Bhairab Bazar, 155.5 mm at Narayanhat, 150 mm at Lorergarh, 140 mm at Panchagarh, 132 mm at Dalia, 125 mm at Sunamganj, 116.3 mm at Ramgarh, 105.6 mm at Narsingdi, 103 mm at Brahmanbaria, 85.7 mm at Panchpukuria, 70 mm at Bogra, 69 mm at Chilmari, 64 mm at Sylhet, 61 mm at Gaibandha, 59 mm at Barguna, 55.8 mm at Teknaf, 50 mm at Rangpur and 50mm at Dewanganj.
Situation across the country
Flash floods triggered by heavy seasonal rains and onrush of water from hills across the Indian border have claimed scores of lives in the country’s northwest and northeastern districts. Flood situation in Dinajpur deteriorated drastically early on Sunday after an embankment for protection of the district town was broken.
Overall flood situation is also alarming in Lalmonirhat and northern Kurigram - where rivers are flowing above the danger level. Eight more deaths have been reported in these two districts in connection with the massive floods.
Apart from the rainfall, flash floods eroded large portions of villages and agricultural lands, and washed away buildings elsewhere in Bangladesh. Authorities have evacuated residents of hundreds of villages to higher grounds in a number of Bangladesh districts that are prone to torrential rains between June and September.
The flood situation has worsened in Moulvibazar and Sylhet districts as many lands, roads and markets have gone under water due to overflow of major rivers Surma-Kushiayara, Manu and Khowai in the county’s Eastern Regions.
Over two lakh people in Moulvibazar town were marooned and many of them were panicked as the town protection embankment was broken.
Floodwaters inundated roads, central areas of the towns and damaged shops and other domestic animals of the districts, according to Water Development Board officials.
The Surma-Kushiayara rivers at Zakiganj, Sheola, Kanaighat points in Sylhet and Manu in Moulvibazar point were flowing above the danger marks, according to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre.
The devastating erosion by the mighty River Padma has taken a serious turn in Char Bhadrasan upazila of Faridpur, threatening the river-protection dam.
The river was only 12 meters away from the locality of Dangi village in Sadarupazila, locals said adding that the entire village may go inside the river anytime. Bangladesh Water Development Board has spent around Tk 4 crore for the development of the dam by building a concrete road on it. Moreover, some 26,130 sacks filled with sand were put beside the river bank in the affected areas in three phases, according to BWDB sources.
The water level in Brahmaputra, Teesta, Dharla and Dudhkumar rives has continued to rise following the gushing water from the upstream and incessant rains. Many low-lying and char areas have already been inundated, worsening the overall flood situation in the district.
The internal road communication in the upazila was snapped due to flooding in many char areas as well as people of these areas could not go out for works for several days, said villagers.
According to sources at Bangladesh Water Development Board office in Kurigram, water level of Brahmaputra river was flowing only 1.46 cm below the danger level at Chilmari point while in Noonkhawa point it was flowing just 2 cm below the danger level. Dharla was flowing only 0.99 cm below the danger level at Bridge point while in Teesta the water was flowing 1.6 cm below the danger level on June 24.
The flood situation in Fenchuganj upazila of the district deteriorated further, leaving 30,000 people of 25 villages in five unions marooned.
The Kushiara River was flowing 118 cm above the danger level at Fenchuganj Bazar on June 20. Locals said Baghmara, Pitaitikor, Chhattis, Uttar Islampur, Monurtuk, KM Tilla, Fenchuganj Madhya Bazar, Nath Colony, Intaz Ali Residential Area and Paschim Bazar Residential Area went under water due to the flood caused by heavy rain and onrush from the upstream.
At least 30,000 people of Bhoraut, Guchchhagram, Moinpur, Barhal Nurpur’s Bilaigenji, Ghilachhara UP’s Judistipur, Uttar Kushiara UP’s Kotalpur, UttarTilla, Ilashpur Purbo Kandi, Uttar Fenchuganj’s Surikandi, Sailkandi, Goyasi, Manikona Bandarpara and Gongapur remained stranded in floodwater.
Incessant rainfall over the last three days led to severe flooding, causing many in Khagrachhari to be marooned. In most places transportation remained suspended and many landslides on the hill faces destroyed many houses in different areas. More than 500 families remain trapped in the waterlogged areas while another 500 families took shelter in different shelter houses.
In Chattogram, severe flooding was reported from Hathazari, Raozan and Fatikchhari upazilas of the district.
In Hathazari, regional roads, fish enclosures, houses and business establishments were submerged by the rainwater. Hathazari-Rangamati, Hathazari-Khagrachhari and Hathazari-Oxygen roads also got inundated, causing immense sufferings to commuters.
Hathazari Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Akterunnesa Sheuli said the local administration has taken all out preparation to tackle any kind of natural disaster.
The inhabitants of low-lying areas have been asked to take shelter in local educational institutions, she said. In Fatikchhari upazila, 50 villages were inundated by floodwater, rendering three lakh people marooned.
In Rangamati, 14 villages in Baghaichhari upazila of the district were submerged due to rains and onrush of water from hills for the last three days, leaving 60,000 people marooned.
Besides, the water in the Kaptai Lake was flowing over the danger level inundating the low-lying areas of the upazila, including Longdu, Jurachhari, Barkal, Bilaichhari and Naniarchar areas.
In Habiganj, the water level in the Khowai River is flowing 210cm above the danger level at Machulia point of the district town following the onrush of water from hills, said Md Tawhidul Islam, executive engineer of Water Development Board. The town protection dyke stands threatened at different points due to the increase in the water level in the Khowai River.
In Feni, 17 villages in Parshuram and Fulgazi upazilas were flooded by the onrush of water from upstream and rain, rendering several thousand people marooned.
WDB executive engineer Kohinur Alam said the Muhuri River at Parshuram point was flowing 80cm above the danger level at 6pm on Tuesday.
Parshuram pourashava mayor Nizamuddin Chowhdury Sajel said vast tracts of land have been flooded due to the collapse of dyke at Sahar Para village in poura area.
As monsoon rains bare down on sprawling Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar, the U.N. warns that some 200,000 refugees sheltering on the swampland are at risk from landslides and flooding. Half of those threatened by the rising waters and requiring relocation are children.
The first rain of the season poured over the Cox’s Bazar camps and informal settlements last week, inundating most roads. One child reportedly died in a landslide, according to a statement from the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
UNICEF estimates 900 shelters and 200 latrines were either damaged or destroyed.
TV reports showed villages in the country’s north and northeast have gone under up-to-waist-high water. The residents were seen leaving their houses wading through flooded roads or on boats in search for shelter or a dry ground to live temporarily.