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Monu River embankment erosion threatens to displace nearby communities

  • Published at 03:35 pm July 6th, 2019
File Photo of River erosion Mehedi Hasan/ Dhaka Tribune

Some villages in the vicinity may drown soon if steps are not taken immediately to control the damage

Communities living close to Monu River embankments in Kulaura upazila of Moulvibazar are at risk, as the river has once again begun to erode the banks this rainy season.

The river is starting to breach the upazila’s Kaukapon market next to a makeshift dam near the embankment. 10 market shops are completely under water due to the erosion and flooding.

Locals say, due to persistent rain and the continuous downpour of water from the upstream hills has turned the river dangerous. Around forty shops in this market have gone under water in the last two years.

Sources at the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) warned that shops built adjacent to the makeshift river dam have compromised the dam’s structural integrity, causing it to crack. If the shops are not removed soon, the river erosion will not only sweep them away but may do potential damage to other adjacent areas.

According to local sources, in fiscal year 2017-18, the BWDB built wooden pillar and sand sack structures in an attempt to promptly curb damage from the escalating erosion, which failed to contain the river and were washed away last year.

Some locals who own shops in Kaukapon market were able to vacate their shops before the erosion hit the upazila, but others were not so lucky.

Pulok Dey’s drug store, Fazlu Mia’s electronics shop, Rafiq Mia’s tea stall and Wahid Mia’s grocery shop are some of the ten shops that have fallen victim to erosion this season.

Hajir Mia, a man who lost his tea stall to the erosion, said: "The tea stall was my only source of income. With my shop gone, I don't know how to provide for my family now."

Another shopkeeper, Amal Dey, said: "I was able to save some of the goods from my stall as it was close to my home, but much was lost."

Hazipur union council Chairman Abdul Bachhit Bacchu said: "If action is not taken immediately, some villages and the Kaukapon market will not survive."

BWDB Executive Engineer, Ranendra Shangkar Chakrabarti, said: "We marked 67 points in the Sadar, Kulaura, and Rajnagar upazilas which are at risk due to river erosion. 

“A  Tk1,000 crore development project, will soon be proposed to build permanent boundaries around the river embankments which will contain the ferocious river waters in the rainy season.

He added that the BWDB has already sent notices to vacate the shops that are putting pressure and stress on the makeshift dam.

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