One lakh people under flood threat
About one lakh people are under threat of floods on the shoals and chars of the Teesta river in five upazilas in Lalmonirhat as the river is about to cross the danger level due to heavy downpour upstream across the border.
Many char areas have been flooded in the last 24 hours, bringing untold sufferings to residents of those areas. The Teesta was flowing only one centimetre below the danger level of 52.4cm at Teesta Barrage point of Doyani in Hatibandha upazila as of yesterday afternoon.
Mostafizur Rahman, executive engineer of Water Development Board (WDB) at Dalia, said all 44 gates of Teesta Barrage have been kept open since Wednesday night due to pressure of upstream water.
“The Indian Gajoldoba Barrage authorities have informed me that they kept open all the gates of the barrage due to pressure of water flowing from upstream Sikkim,” he added.
He said they have been monitoring the water level of the river. “We will alert the char and shoal people if the river crosses the danger level,” he said, warning that the water level might cross the danger level anytime.
Mobarak Hossain, 35, of Char Gaddimari village in Hatibandha said their shoal was flooded yesterday morning and they were using bamboo-made rafts to maintain connection with the mainland.
Mofazzal Hossain, chairman of Rajpur Union Parishad in Lalmonirhat Sadar, said char and shoal people always live in flood situations during the rainy season as the river overflows following normal downpour upstream.
The riverbed has lost its depth because of silt and mud settling there for years, said WDB Executive Engineer of Lalmonirhat Abu Bakkar. He added it is necessary to dredge the river so that it can capture additional water during rains.
A large area in Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal and northern Bangladesh has been flooded as excessive water has been released through the two barrages in Sikkim and West Bengal states, reports our Kolkata correspondent Subrata Acharya.
The release of water has created danger of large-scale flood in Bangladesh's northern districts.
Insiders said excessive water has been released from the Gajoldoba barrage in West Bengal due to flash flood caused by untimely rainfall. The government sources say 1,200 cusec of water has been released, but locals claim the amount would be several times higher.
It has been apprehended that low-lying areas fed by the Teesta in Bangladesh will be affected by the flash flood.
Contacted over cellphone, West Bengal Irrigation Minister Rajib Banerjee yesterday told this correspondent that the Barrage sources informed him that 1,200 cusec water was released on Tuesday.
Asked if they had considered that the water released from the barrage might affect Bangladesh, the minister said, “The water has been released by Sikkim. As Sikkim is on the upstream when water is released, it will flow downwards. However, Sikkim should have given us a note before releasing the water.”
However, Rajib Banerjee expressed sorrow over the creation of flood situations in Bangladesh. He said, “We don't want any neighbouring country to be affected due to us.”
West Bengal state government has meanwhile issued a “Yellow Alert” from Domohani at Teesta to bordering Mekhliganj since Tuesday morning.
The western districts in West Bengal have been experiencing heavy rainfall for the last one week due to a depression. The rainfall caused pressure of excessive water on Gajoldoba barrage due to flash flood.
Local people have complained that the authorities concerned released water at Gajoldoba without any prior announcement.