Locals formed human chains in 10 upazilas of Sunamganj district yesterday morning demanding steps to protect Boro harvest of the haor region.
“Haor Bachao, Sunamganj Bachao Andolon” organised the programme.
They demanded forming Project Implementation Committees (PIC) after public hearing, prompt construction of Haor protection embankments and stopping the construction of unnecessary embankments.
As per the policy, all works related to the embankments must start by December 15 and have to be finished by February 28.
But the work is yet to start in full swing as it was delayed because of the parliamentary elections on December 30.
Although the administration is hopeful of finishing the reconstruction on time, farmers and rights activists are worried about the quality of the work.
In March-April of 2017, flash floods hit the district and other haor areas of north-east region, and the whole Boro cultivation was washed away.
Following corruption related to the construction of the embankment, the ministry filed cases and had to revise its policy related to reconstruction.
According to the revised Kajer Binimoye Taka (Kabita) Policy of 2017 of Water Development Board (WDB), all works related to the embankments must start by December 15 and have to be finished by February 28 every year.
As per the policy, the administration will form Project Implementation Committees (PIC) headed by the upazila nirbahi officers (UNO) by November 30 every year. The PICs are responsible for the reconstruction work of embankments.
The policy also determines that all schemes must be submitted to WBD by the district committee before September every year. The district committee is formed with the deputy commissioner as president and WDB executive engineer as member secretary.
Sunamganj WDB Executive Engineer Abu Bakar Siddique Bhuiyan said they planned to form 553 PICs to reconstruct 553 projects in 37 haors of 11 upazilas in the district this year.
“The total work will cost Tk 94 crore and the ministry concerned has already sanctioned one-fourth of the amount to start the work. Till last Monday, 243 PICs had been formed and only seven of them have started working, but the work will start in full swing soon,” he said.
“The work was delayed due to the national election, but we are hopeful of finishing it in time,” said the executive engineer, also member secretary of the district committee for embankment construction.
This year, 450 kilometres of embankments are being reconstructed by the WDB, while it was 1,300 kilometres last year. No flash flood hit the Boro cultivation last year.
Abdul Hakim, a farmer of Jamalganj upazila in Sunamganj, said Boro cultivation is going on in full swing although the embankment work has not started yet, which is worrying the farmers.
“All embankments need time to be strong enough to protect farms from flash flood, but if the work is finished in a hurry, then it will be of poor quality,” said Kasmir Reza, president of Paribesh O Haor Unnayan Sangstha.
“We should remember the situation the country faced due to the flash flood of 2017 that washed away the Boro crop totally. We will submit a memorandum to the administration soon with the demand for quality work in time,” he said.
Boro is being cultivated on 217,600 hectares of land in the district this year as the weather is favourable, said Bashir Ahmed Sarkar, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension in Sunamganj.
The farmers are afraid of occurrence of flash flood as the work is being delayed, he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Sunamganj Abdul Ahad said, “Hopefully the work will be finished in time. As the method of working is machine-based now, the quality of work will be ensured before the finishing.”c