The authorities concerned are going to repair around 1000 kilometres of embankments, out of a total 1500 kilometres, in 36 haor (large wetland) areas of Sunamganj to protect Boro cultivation from possible flash floods during early rains next year.
The repair and maintenance of embankments on haors assumed greater importance when flash floods in 2017 destroyed Boro plants in vast areas and the country saw shortfall in rice production.
As negligence of contractors and Project Implementation Committees (PIC) were found, the government initiated reformed ‘Kabita (Kajer Binimoye Taka) Rules 2017, which stated that government officials will preside over the PICs and no contractor will be awarded any work for embankment construction in the haor areas.
It also stipulates that all PICs must be formed by November 30, work must start before December 15 and be completed by February 28.
For the first phase, the government allotted Tk 68 crore but the administration is yet to form PICs as the survey work at the embankments is still going on.
Md Sabibur Rahman, executive engineer of Bangladesh Water Development Board in Sunamganj, said, “The survey work got a little delayed due to slow recession of water after heavy rainfall under the impact of cyclone Bulbul increased water level in the haors. The survey will be complete within a couple of days and the PICs will be formed promptly according to the initial plan.”
This year, Boro paddy will be cultivated on 219,450 hectares of land in the district while last year’s cultivation area was 228,440 hectares, said Mohammad Sofor Uddin, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Sunamganj.
Last year, 572 projects were completed by as many PICs and 450 kilometres of embankment was repaired spending Tk 80 crore.
There were allegations of involving corrupt people in the PICs and listing of unnecessary projects with the scheme last year.
“Accountability and clarity must be ensured in construction and repair works of the embankments and PICs must be formed with arrangement for public hearing so that no corrupt people are involved with the committees,” said Bazlul Majid Choudhury, president of Haor Bachao, Sunamganj Bachao movement.
Abdul Ahad, deputy commissioner of Sunamganj, said, “Preparatory work for the embankment repair has already started and all the PICs will be formed carefully as per the rules soon after the survey is completed.”
“The primary focus is to repair the existing embankments. If needed, we will construct new embankments in the haor areas and we are hopeful to complete all works by the deadline stipulated by the rules,” he said.