Water flow of the Jamuna River has been rising steadily and is threatening homes and livelihoods of hundreds in Kalihati and Bhuapur upazilas of Tangail. Over a 48-hour period last week, at least 28 homesteads were lost as the soil eroded in Kalihati. The situation was much worse in Bhuapur, where people lost around 100 homes. The sad part in this whole story is that the affected people have alleged that their complaints to local administration fell on deaf ears. Apparently, the primary reason for this erosion is due to indiscriminate sand lifting from the banks of the river. Despite protestation by the local communities, the authorities did not make a move to stop the activity.
The damage is done. The bigger question here is what will the authorities do now? Hundreds of people, along with their families, are spending days and nights under the open sky subject to the elements. People in Kalihati upazila’s Beltia village have been venting their anger at the apparent apathy of the local administration, stating that they have long been demanding a permanent embankment in the area. Again, these demands have not been looked into. The executive engineer of Water Development Board in Tangail who recently visited the affected areas has told this paper that the authority is taking steps to construct a permanent embankment in the area during the next dry season. Why couldn’t this embankment be constructed last dry season? It is not as if the problem of erosion happened in a day, and had it been in place, perhaps the people of these two upazilas could still have had their homes. It is one thing to promise the sun and the moon after a disaster has occurred. It is quite another to be responsive to people’s needs and avert a problem in the first place. We can only hope that whatever decision authorities take now will be implemented expeditiously so that these people can get back to rebuilding their lives.