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Haor farmers worried as embankment projects run behind schedule

  • Published at 03:21 pm March 17th, 2021
Haor protection embankment, Sunamganj
A haor protection embankment under construction in Sunamganj Dhaka Tribune

Although WDB claimed completion of around 90% of the total work, locals say that a large portion of the project still remains incomplete on account of large-scale irregularities

Farmers in haor (giant water body) areas under Sylhet division are worried as the ongoing embankment protection projects under the Water Development Board (WDB) run behind schedule.

To save Boro croplands from possible early floods in the upcoming monsoon, the government had set February 28 as the deadline to complete the embankment protection projects in the haor regions. The deadline, however, was later extended to March 15.

Although WDB sources say around 90% of the total work has been completed, local organizations dedicated to protecting the haor regions claim that a large portion of the work still remains incomplete on account of large-scale irregularities.

According to official sources, the WDB had formed 911 Project Implementation Committees (PICs) for the construction of 675km of embankments in four districts under Sylhet division at a cost of Tk134.08 crore. Till Sunday, WDB had released Tk72.98 crore from the project fund.

Sunamganj district has the highest number of embankments and PICs. A total of 620.213km of dams are to be constructed in the district through 809 PICs at a cost of Tk125.74 crore.

Meanwhile, 23.717km of dams in Sylhet, 6.96km of dams in Moulvibazar and 24.14km of dams in Habiganj are to be constructed.

February 28 had been set as the deadline for the completion of work. Recently, Deputy Minister for Water Resources AKM Enamul Haque Shameem extended the time till March 7 after visiting Sunamganj. But, as the PICs missed the deadline once again, it was extended till March 15 for the third time. Meanwhile, farmers are worried as the project was yet incomplete till Tuesday.

Sylhet district WDB Executive Engineer Shahiduzzaman Sarkar said: "80-90% of the work has been completed in the district so far. It will take a few days more to complete the rest.

Habiganj WDB Engineer Shahnewaz Talukder said: "85% of the work has been completed in the district so far. The project will be completed in a few days."

Moulvibazar WDB Executive Engineer Md Akhtaruzzaman said: "100% work of 12 PICs has been completed in the district. Some works still remain, which will soon be complete as well."

Bijan Sen Roy, central general secretary of "Haor Bachao Andolan", said: "Most of the haors under Sylhet division are located in Sunamganj district. So, it is important that priority be given to Sunamganj. But local farmers are worried as almost half the work is still incomplete in this district."

He demanded a speedy completion of all the dams under Sylhet division and asked that large-scale irregularities in the project works be addressed too.

Speaking on the matter, WDB Chief Engineer (North Eastern Zone) SM Shahidul Islam said: "90% of the haor protection embankment project has already been completed under Sylhet division. Meanwhile, all parties concerned have been urged to complete the remaining works as soon as possible."

He, however, disagreed that the level of work progress was slow, as claimed by local organizations. He said action would be taken against anyone committing irregularities in the project works. 

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