Large parts of embankment damaged in Banshkhali
People in the coastal areas of Banshkhali upazila in Chittagong fear of more floods ahead as cyclone Roanu had badly damaged large portions of an embankment.
Seawater was still gushing in through the collapsed portions of the embankment, marooning villagers, locals said.
They fear that the damage to the embankment would bring more miseries if it was not rebuilt before the rainy season.
According to Chittagong district administration, around 30km of the 130km-long embankment was damaged and 30 points of the dam were in a poor condition.
Visiting villages in the upazila on Sunday, this correspondent saw seawater rushing into villages through the damaged portions. Similar situation was also seen in Borgona, Kala Gazi Para, Premashia, Raichhra areas.
Abul Khaer, a local of Khankanabad, said no one was paying attention to the rebuilding.
The seventy-year-old man is now staying at a Red Crescent cyclone shelter with his wife and two daughters as his house was damaged by the tidal surges.
“Where will our children go if the situation continues?” he asked.
Mohammad Forhad, a local of Premashia, said, “Over 500 houses were damaged in our ward alone.”
He said the embankment had not been in good shape and that it should have been repaired long ago.
Farhad said there was no way to cook food in the houses in his locality as all the belongings were washed away. “There is a severe water crisis in the village.”
“Monsoon is just starting. The embankment might get damaged further any time, and that would bring more misery to the locals,” he said.
“Due to tidal surges, the embankment has been damaged in at least 11 points in Khankanabad union alone. Our life and livelihood depend on the embankment. If it is damaged, how will we survive,” said Gazi Zafor Ullah, a volunteer of Cyclone Preparedness Programme (CPP) at Khankanabad.
Shahab Uddin of Kala Gazi Para invested over Tk 3 lakh in his fish project. Dead fishes were seen floating on the water.
“I hoped that I would make a good profit by selling the fish in the upcoming Ramadan but saline water destroyed everything,” he said.
Those who depend on fish farming in the area have been severely affected, he added.
According to the deputy commissioner (DC) of Chittagong, seven people were killed and three others went missing in Banshkhali.
Meanwhile, Relief and Disaster Management Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya at a meeting at the DC office in the port city on Sunday night said the casualties occurred in the coastal areas as the embankments there were not repaired.
He mentioned that the present condition of the coastal embankments was not good to deal with the disaster. “The ministry alone cannot solve the problem, rather every government department concerned should come forward,” he said.
Sources at the Chittagong DC office said a budget of Tk 235 crore to rebuild the embankment in Banshkhali had already been approved by the Ecnec.
Contacted, DC Mesbahuddin said the project had been approved four months ago and a tender had also been floated, but contractors did not show willingness to do the work at the proposed rate.
“For this reason, the repair work of the embankment could not be started in time...” he added.
Water Development Board Superintendent Engineer Siddiqur Rahman said, “A revised budget has been sent to the planning commission and we expect that it would be approved within one month. The repair work would begin soon.”
Crops were damaged and fishes of ponds and other water bodies had been washed away by the tidal surges caused by the cyclone that made landfall on Saturday, causing a huge loss to farmers in the upazila.
According to the DC office, crops worth Tk 50 crore and livestock worth Tk 100 crore were destroyed in different upazilas of Chittagong.