The government has taken up four projects costing Tk 8,000 crore to construct sustainable embankments to protect the lives and properties of people in the coastal areas of the southwestern part of the country, Deputy Minister for Water Resources AKM Enamul Hoque Shameem said today.
The deputy minister also said the government is actively considering formation of a "Coastal Development Board" like the one of Haor Development Board to address the problems in the coastal areas.
Enamul Hoque Shameem said this while speaking as chief guest at a national dialogue on construction of sustainable embankment in the coastal area held at the Dhaka Reporters Unity.
"The works of the projects will begin this year and are expected to be completed within two to three years," he said.
Jointly organised by Sundarban O Upakul Surakkha Andolon and LEDARS, a Satkhira based non-government organisation, the programme was addressed among others by ruling Awami League lawmaker Md Akhteruzzaman Babu for Khulna-6, former lawmaker Nabi Newaz, Dhaka Reporters Unity President Rafiqul Islam Azad, Mihir Biswas of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, Ashish Kumar Dey of Nou, Sarak and Railpath Rakkha Jatiya Committee, Tarik Hossain of Jana Uddogh, Nripen Baidya of Faith In Action and Sanjidul Hasan of LEDARS.
Nikhil Chandra Bhadra, coordinator of Sundarban O Upakul Surakkha Andolon, presided over the meeting.
Aminur Rasul Babul, an environmentalist, placed the key note speech in the programme.
Enamul Hoque Shameem said not only embankment but special measures have been taken to ensure development of coastal areas in the country.
He said initiatives would also be taken to construct super driveway from Cox's Bazar to Satkhira, protect Sundarbans and rivers, and resolve the drinking water shortage in the coastal areas.
Lawmaker Akhteruzzaman Babu said the cyclone-affected people don't want relief, rather they want construction of embankments.
Meanwhile, the speakers in the dialogue demanded construction of a permanent and strong embankment considering climate change and natural calamities in the region.
They stressed the need for arranging emergency funds and engaging local governments for maintenance of the embankments.
The speakers urged the government to enforce the ban on making shrimp or crab enclosures within 100 meters of the embankments immediately and take effective steps to ensure safe drinking water for the coastal people.
They alleged huge irregularities in implementing different projects taken to repair the damaged embankments in coastal areas.