The Indo-Bangla border has been changing due to continuous river erosion caused by the incessant monsoon rain in Khagrachari.
Around eight hectares of land surrounding the Feni river in Khagrachari's Matiranga upazila. Hundreds of Bangali settler families are living in fear in these areas.
In the recent years, river erosion has become more intense due to lack of governance, locals claim. However, the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) have evaded the matter by saying that they were unable to monitor the area due to lack of road communication.
Besides patrolling the area, the Bangladesh Border Guards (BGB) has been using their own funds and working with the locals to prevent the situation. They have been continuously trying to stop the river erosion by dumping concrete blocks and sacks of sand.
Although India has demarcated their boundary with barbed wires, Bangladesh has yet made any such effort. Thus, in some of the areas, the river has been considered as international maritime boundary. Bangladesh is losing its land mass every year due to the lack of river governance, whereas new shoals are emerging at the Indian side.
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BGB jawans are helping the locals to dump concrete blocks to prevent the land from the river erosion of Feni Dhaka Tribune
BGB 40 Battalion Commanding Officer Lt Col Md Khalid Ahmed said that BGB has taken the responsibility of protecting 40km of the Indo-Bangla border areas. He added: “39 international boundary markers have completely submerged and 16 of them are now in the river. We have collected these information by conducting a joint survey with India and then notified the authorities concerned. Bangladesh will be in a crisis without adequate river governance.”
BWDB Deputy Divisional Engineer (Khagrachari office), Md Nurul Absar Azad, said: “The government has taken the initiative for river governance in order to stop the erosion of rivers at the border. On July 11, after a discussion chaired by the prime minister, a project has been approved regarding this matter. The construction of this project will start in the next dry season.”
Hundreds of crops and agricultural lands in Matiranga are now in crisis.
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Many agricultural lands have been affected by the erosion of Feni river Dhaka Tribune
Whereas, to avoid any such a predicament India has created a concrete dam around the bank of Feni in Tripura state's Amarpur. To ensure the movement of Border Security Force (BSF), they have also constructed roads in the border area.
In contrast, Bangladesh has not made similar efforts which rendered much of its land mass to go under the river.
A local from Bornal Amtoli village, Chinglaprot Marma, said that he has lost around 0.4 hectares of land due to river erosion in the past few years. His entire family depended on what they earned by cultivating crops on this land.
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BGB jawans are marking the area with a flag where the boundary marker has submerged in Feni river due to land erosion Dhaka Tribune
Another local, Komol Bikash Chakma, said: “Twenty days ago, I took a piece of land on lease for cultivating crops from a local, Yusuf Mia. Within a few days of sowing the seeds, around 0.64 hectares of this land went under Feni river due to the incessant rain. I also took a loan to buy the seeds and fertilisers. Now, I do not know what to do.”
A local from Dewan Bazar area, Md Mizan, said: “All my life, I have noticed India building dams around the river to protect their surrounding areas. I have not witnessed such an effort being made by Bangladesh and that is way so much of our land is getting submerged in the river every year.”
Predicting a severe land mass crisis, Chairman of Mantiranga Bornal union, Ali Akbar, suggested that the government should start dumping concrete blocks promptly to protect the areas around the river from being flooded. He added: “The union's Tholapara, Kadamtoli, Noyapara and Amtoli area have already lost around 2 hectares of agricultural land due to the river erosion. Around three hundred Bangali settler families have been also affected in Motumog Karbari area, Dewanpara and other surrounding villages.”