A 20-metre-long breach developed on the embankment of Rangpur branch canal under Teesta irrigation project at Dakkhin Borobhita village in Kishoreganj upazila under the district on Tuesday night, causing damage to vast boro fields due to onrush of water through the breach.
The incident coincided with the unusual rise in the flow of water in the Teesta River.
The flow was 3000 cusec on Tuesday night, which is unlikely in this season as only 300-400 cusec of water is discharged from the upstream in India to the Bangladesh portion of the river this time, said Moinuddin Mondol, sub-assistant engineer of Bangladesh Water Development Board (WDB) at Dalia.
Hearing sound of heavy onrush of water from the canal at about 8:00pm on Tuesday, locals ran towards the direction with lights and saw that a small breach had developed. Due to onrush of water the breach got wider and became about 20-metre-wide within a short time.
Further damage to the embankment could be averted as local schoolteacher Moshiur Rahman immediately made a cell phone call to WDB officials in Nilphamari who immediately opened all the gates of the regulators in the canal mouth to reduce pressure in the breached area, said Fazlar Rahman, chairman of Borobhita union parishad.
Farmers in the village said that their boro plants on about 100 hectares of land beside the canal had been submerged in water.
Eight to ten trees on the canal embankment were also uprooted and swept away due to heavy rush of water, said Karimul Islam, 35, a farmer of Dakkhin Borobhita village.
Jahidul Islam, a resident of the village, alleged that the WDB authorities did not repair the part of the embankment that had become vulnerable due to appearance of a number of rat holes.
Consequently, the earthen embankment could not tackle the increased water pressure and the breach developed, he added.
Contacted, Nurul Islam, executive engineer of WDB Nilphamari Division, informed that the damage occurred as some farmers illegally inserted plastic pipes through the embankment to take out canal water to their land and it made the canal embankments vulnerable.
For such offence, WDB filed cases against many farmers but the malpractice could not be stopped, he added.
“We shall start work to repair the embankment breach by tomorrow [Thursday],” said the official.