Embankment collapse in Rupsha: 40,000 exposed to erosion
An embankment on the mighty Rupsha River collapsed in Amirpur union under Khulna's Batiaghata upazila, leaving residents gripped with panic and uncertainty.
Around seven-kilometre stretch of the river bank along Amirpur union, from Rupsha railway bridge to Birat area, has been eroding for over 20 years.
With the recent collapse of the part of embankment build by Water Development Board, residents of Amirpur, Kariavita, Hasimpur, Dattapara, Narayankhali, and Talapara village are having sleepless nights.
They urged authorities concerned to step up immediately and dump stone-cement blocks on the river bank to prevent erosion.
If the 10-kilometre-long dam collapses further, it will affect 40,000 people of the three unions.
Visiting the area recently, this correspondent saw WDB embankment of Rupsha bridge (Khanjahan Ali Bridge) has eroded at many places, particularly severely in the northern part. WDB has been repairing the dam using sand bags, while erosion already damaged many places including Jabusa area of Rupsha upazila, and Kariya, Boro Kariya areas of Batiaghata upazila.
"We are very worried about the erosion as our land lays lower than river bed. If river water intrudes into our area, it won't be able to drain out," said Ismail Hossain of Boro Kariya village.
Besides, saline water will gravely affect the agricultural land and homesteads, he added.
Tobarok Hossain a resident of Karerton village said he lost five bighas of land in last eight years, while rest of his two bighas of land are in risk of being devoured by the Rupsha any time.
"I was a self-sufficient farmer a decade back. Now I am struggling to bear my family of seven. Who will compensate my losses?" he said.
Batiaghata upazila chairman Md Ashraful Alom Khan said extensive repairs to the river embankment must be done as the river current always erodes away mud from embankment.
More than 2,000 acres of arable land in 12 villages under the three unions have been lost in Rupsha and Kazibasa river erosion in the previous years, he said.
"Around 10,000 people in my union will not be able to live if WDB does not build a sustainable dam. The river banks should be protected with concrete blocks. The mud structures built in a disaster-prone area like this will not hold up if the banks are not preserved," Ashraful added.
Md Sanaul Islam, a professor of Soil Science department at Khulna University, said that while constructing dams in the country's south-west regions it should be kept in mind that the soil there is different from that in other regions.
"Many things might have been overlooked during the construction of this dam," Prof Sanaul added.
Md Ashraful Alam, executive engineer of WDB (Khulna-2) said they have already repaired some portion of the embankment.
"Measures have been taken to preserve the river bank," he added.