How long a populated area can remain water-logged?
BHOBODOHO is a small place in Jessore, accommodating ing of about 8,000 families. It was fertile like many other places of Bangladesh even a few years back. It had been yielding three crops of paddy a year, various vegetables during winter, fruits like mangoes, berries, jack-fruits during summer. The place used to be crowded with school-going children, market-going peasants, mosque and temple-bound worshippers. But currently the situation has reversed. Having been water-logged almost throughout the year ,no crops are harvested, no fruits, vegetables or even grass for cattle feeding are grown. Consequently there is every day shortage of food. The area used to grow Tk 80 crore worth of agricultural produce, this has dropped down awfully. Most of the dwellings being submerged by water, cooking food and eating it, collecting pure drinking water, washing clothes, taking bath etc have become difficult and unhygienic. Sanitation system has broken down completely.
The news of this water-logging has been telecast several times. Renowned media personality Sykhe Siraj has filmed and telecast the situation in Channel-I more than once . Many columnists have written about the matter in the print media, but unfortunately neither the government nor any NGO, or any other organization has come up to the rescue of the people.
Reasons for water logging
Talking to an executive of Bangladesh Water Development Board it is learnt that the river-beds of the area have become filled up with silt. So the water cannot flow easily downstream to the sea. Moreover when sea water level rises up during high tide the flow stands still. Any rainfall at that time aggravates the stagnant situation and the water of the rivers overflows their banks and spreads to the low lying areas. The water that submerges the low lying areas cannot revert to the river when flood subsides. That is how water logging is created. As a remedy the Water Board has been making tidal basins in order to raise the level of surface of those areas.
The mechanism of making tidal basin is to close an area with earthen embankments and connect it with the river by excavating a canal . During high tide the water from river enters the basin carrying a lot of silts which is retained, thus gradually the low place becoming high in several years and water logging is cured. While this method was going on, the owners of land refused to leave their land idle, without crops for several years. They claimed some compensation which the government could not afford . So the process stopped.
The second method undertaken by the BIWTA involves dredging of the river-beds .This method is effective , but the quantity of work done is very little allegedly because of low budgetary allocation by the government.
It is really unfortunate for 8,000 families at Bhobodoho whose land, dwelling houses ,markets, roads, schools, colleges, madrashas etc remain submerged throughout the year and no effective remedial measures are taken by the authority . BIWTA cannot escape responsibility by saying that there is no budget allocation for dredging the river-beds. It should rather bring the sufferings of the people to the notice of the authority recommending allocation of funds for dredging. The allocated funds should also be spent very prudently without any pilferage and graft. The government should allocate more funds for this project for dredging or excavating the river beds manually through food for work programme.
Secondly, there are many NGOs and donors who donate for the humanitarian causes. I am appealing to them to come with funds for removing this water logging .
Thirdly, tidal basins programme should not be stopped . The government should pay some sort of compensation to the owners of land and the peasants and workers who earn their livelihood by working in those lands .The government should make allocations in the ADP for solving this problem.
Fourthly, the dwellers of Bhobodoho should come up with their voluntary assistance to excavate the river beds along with dredging of BIWTA, food for work programme and tidal basins programme of Water Board. All the efforts put together will, I firmly believe solve the water logging problem of Bhobodoho for ever. What is needed is an effort for the local leaders , Water Board and BIWTA authorities to motivate the people to extend their self help and activate the govt. measures.