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Flood in the north: Rivers swell from heavy rain and upstream water

  • Published at 12:29 am July 13th, 2019
Jamuna River-Flood-Dhaka Tribune
A girl in Tangail watches locals attempt to assemble a makeshift barrage against the swelling Jamuna which has already devoured 400 houses in its path Dhaka TribuneDhaka Tribune

Hundreds of houses have been swept away as waters flood six districts

Days of incessant rain have culminated in severe flooding of several districts, prompting the government to mobilize all available measures to tackle the situation.

Heavy rainfall and water from upstream have also seen all major rivers in Sylhet to surge. The Surma and Kushiara are flowing greatly in excess of 100cm above the danger level in Companyganj, Gowainghat, Jaintapur, Kanaighat, Fenchuganj, and Balaganj upazilas.

The Dhalai and Sari rivers also swelled, flooding towns and villages and cutting off communications.

Authorities expect the condition to further deteriorate.

In Kurigram, the Dharala and Brahmaputra are flowing 12cm and 11cm respectively above the danger point. Other lesser rivers in the district are also swelling as the flow from upstream has not shown any sign of relenting.

Intermittent landslides have damaged several dams, endangering at least 20,000 local residents, and putting the Dhaka-Rowmari Highway in risk as well.

Bandarban remained cut off from the country after seven days of relentless torrent. Landslides have severed the road connecting Bandarban and Rangamati. The roads are expected to recover once the waters recede.

The continuous downpour has further inundated the Sangu and Matamuhuri rivers, flooding parts of the town, prompting 1,200 families to take refuge in 131 shelters.

Bandarban Mayor Islam Baby said 2,400 municipality residents are being provided with food daily.

The Meghna raged in Chandpur, threatening a Tk300 crore river protection dam project. The local upazila authorities are dumping geo-bags in the river to mitigate soil erosion in lieu of the local Water Development Board authorities.

The river has already eroded a 158meter stretch of land along the dam, making locals whose houses, businesses, and land are at risk panic.

In Nilphamari, the Teesta had been flowing 28cm above the danger level on Thursday. While it decreased to 24cm above the danger level on Friday, severe damage to a dam in the Dimla upazila has been reported.

Local authorities have asked residents of 10 unions to evacuate to high land, cautioning that at least 20,000 people are at risk.

In Gaibandha, rainwater and water from upstream in the hills have sharply increased water levels in all major rivers.

Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) office sources said the Brahmaputra rose by 36cm, the Teesta by 3cm, the Karotoa by 34cm, and the Ghagot by 53cm.

The rise of water level has affected the low-lying areas of the chars and the Brahmaputra river basin, with thousands of people growing concerned, reports BSS.

Deputy Commissioner Abdul Matin said an emergency disaster management meeting was convened on Thursday to help mitigate damages. The government offices are being aided by NGOs who are also operating in the district.

Jamuna endangers thousands

The Jamuna River has raged through Manikganj over two weeks, taking at least 200 houses, a mosque, a madrasa, and a school into its gullet.

Hundreds of families suddenly rendered landless are seeking shelter at government offices. Authorities are distributing relief, but the consensus is that only a long-term solution can prevent Shibalaya and Daulatpur upazilas from suffering catastrophic damages, according to UNB.

Three villages in Tangail were ravaged by the Jamuna in the Bhuiyapur upazila. As of Friday, at least 200 houses were reported to have been swallowed by the river’s widening maw. Another several hundred houses, in addition to schools, mosques, and temples are also at risk.

Locals alleged the Water Development Board has done next to nothing in terms of preventive measures, in spite of repeated pleas for assistance.

Authorities admitted the erosion is severe, and requires geo-bags to be dumped along at least a 500meter stretch, but only 75meters have been approved.

Government measures

State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman said 17,500 tons of rice, 50,000 packets of dry food, 500 tents and Tk2.93 crore in cash have been sent to the flood-affected districts.

Medical teams will also reach the affected areas in a couple of days, said State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman on Friday.

Quoting the Met office, he said the situation may worsen.

The Ministry of Water Resources has set up a control room in its Secretariat office to monitor and assess the flood situation. The control room can be contacted at 02-9570028.

The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre, which is also working round the clock, can be reached through their toll-free number of 1090, and the extension 5.

Bashu Das from Bandarban, Ibrahim Rony from Chandpur, Ariful Islam from Kurigram, Taiyeb Ali Sarker from Nilphamari and Abdullah Al Numan from Tangail contributed to this report