People formed a human chain in front of a vulnerable cyclone shelter on the Ramnabad river bank in Chalitabunia union under Rangabali upazila on Wednesday demanding immediate steps to save their dwellings, agricultural lands and different set-ups in the area.
Patuakhali Youth Forum arranged the programme with the cooperation of UNICEF marking the ‘climate strike week’, being observed in over 150 countries across the globe from September 20 to 27 to step up support for young climate strikers demanding an end to the age of fossil fuels.
Chalitabunia is an isolated union, surrounded by the Agunmukha river in the North and East and the Ramnabad river in the South and West, and the locals are under fear as the Agunmukha has caused serious erosion since 2013, speakers said at the human chain.
“Over 200 homesteads and about 300 acres of land went into the river in last five years. The river recently devoured two mosques and a madrasa and the only cyclone shelter for Chalitabunia, Bibirhawla, Gorurdanga and Golbunia villages is about to collapse,” said Zahidur Rahman, chairman of Chalitabunia union parishad.
At least 6,000 people living beside the river are passing days amid fear as their dwellings and farmlands are under threat, he said.
Saline water with tidal surges easily enters into agricultural lands through damaged portions of flood control embankment on the river, said local farmers.
Md Jahirul Islam, president of Patuakhali Youth Forum, Khalid Bin Walid Talukder, vice chairman of Rangabali upazila parishad, Jahangir Alam, headmaster of Mamotajuddin High School, Lipi Akhter, union parishad member, addressed the gathering, among others.
They demanded effective steps to save dwelling houses, farmlands, cyclone shelter and other establishments from erosion.
During a recent visit to the area, this correspondent found the cyclone shelter set up by Red Crescent at risk due to removal of earth from near its pillars.
During the high tide, the structure seems to be standing inside the river.
Md Mohsin Hawlader, 60, a local fisherman, said his house at Chalitabunia village went into the river one and a half years ago.
Delwar Biswas, a farmer of the same village, said he cannot grow crops well as saline water enters through the damaged portion of flood control embankment.
Khan Md Waliuzzaman, executive engineer of Water Development Board in Kalapara Circle, said there are 27 kilometres of flood control embankment around Chalitabunia union and of it at least four km area has been eroded by the river.
“We are making an estimate to repair the damaged dyke for sending to the higher authorities. We hope the repair work will start in the upcoming dry season,” he said.