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Cox’s Bazar coastal embankments unprotected since 1991

  • Published at 07:28 am April 29th, 2019
Web_Cox's Bazar-map
Map of Cox's Bazar Dhaka Tribune

Moreover, no adequate cyclone shelters have been built over the years

Around 28 years ago, on this day, a catastrophic tropical cyclone struck the coastal habitat of Cox’s Bazar, destroying the majority of embankments in the coastal area. 

According to sources from the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), there are 596km of embankment surrounding eight upazilas of the district. 

As the 1991 cyclone destroyed most embankments, BWDB identifies numerous risky areas as unsafe every year, and works on repairing the damaged embankments with allocated funds.

Cox's Bazar Water Development Board Executive Engineer Toyon Kumar Tripura said: “Most of the embankments in the Cox's Bazar’s coastal region were damaged. 

“Roughly 500m of embankment in Kutubdia and 1km in Maheshkhali’s Dhalaghata union is at risk. Around 30-35km of embankment in the district is in a vulnerable condition.”

He said: “Meanwhile, construction of an embankment, in Shahporir Dwip in Teknaf, has been completed, putting the island out of danger. Additionally, embankment construction in other risky areas is underway. Repair work on the damaged embankments will commence as soon as we get enough funds, in time.”

Cox’s Bazar Red Crescent sources said, after the 1991 disastrous tropical cyclone, about 200 cyclone shelters were built in the district—with the aid of government and non-government organizations—that are no-longer suitable for use.

Most of these shelters were also being used as schools, and have been at risk for several years. Some of them have structural problems while others are on the brink of ruin. No decision has been made, in 28 years, as to which organization is responsible for restoring these shelters.

Parabons—man-made mangroves or green barriers—were built, along with the embankments, for further protection, but they have also has been destroyed.

In April 1991, Chittagong district was struck by a cataclysmic tropical cyclone that left thousands of people dead and destroyed the surrounding habitats in the coastal area.

Thousands of families lost their livelihoods, along with their domestic animals and fishery reserves. Due to this heavy financial loss in various sectors—including roads and forestry resources—fully recovering from the loss has still not been possible; even almost three decades on from the tragedy. 

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