With his father farming on around seven bighas of land at Uttar Shakuchiya in Manpura of Bhola, the family of Mohammad Sajib Uddin was solvent once. But land erosions twice ate up their land and wreaked havoc on the family, making them marginalised.
The erosion forced the family to move to another place. His father had to become a livestock broker while his eldest brother dropped out of school and became a day labourer to support the family.
"My brother has been a day labourer since he was forced to stop studying some 15 years ago. Another brother of mine is a mason. Now they're helping me continue my studies.
Or else, I would have to accept the same fate," the tenth grader told The Daily Star during a human chain in front of Jatiya Press Club in the capital yesterday.
Like Sajib, over a dozen of Manpura residents, who are facing similar hardship caused by the river erosions, took part in the human chain organised by 28 rights organisations.
In the hour-long programme, they demanded immediate government initiatives to save the coastal island in Bhola from river erosions, and ensure transparency and accountability in the works undertaken by Water Development Board (WDB) and local administration.
“We must save our coastal areas and the coastal people. We must save Manpura. A proper utilisation of budgetary allocations has to be ensured in this regard,” said Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust.
Zayed Iqbal Khan of Bangladesh Krishak Federation said, “Between 1973 and 2010, Manpura has lost around 34 square kilometres of land. The land is decreasing day by day. A concrete flood control embankment has to be built to protect the people.”
Subal Sarkar of Bangladesh Bhumihin Samity said about 20 villages and 10 bazars have gone completely under water. “Even the Manpura town is in a vulnerable condition, since the river is just about 300 yards away.”
Mihir Biswas of Paribesh Bachao Andolon said it is necessary to create green belts to save the coasts.
Also, the coasts should be brought under the government's seventh five-year plan and Sustainable Development Goals.
Mustafa Kamal Akanda, assistant director of Coastal Association for Social Transformation Trust, conducted the programme.