Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bangladesh loses 32,000 acres along borders

After getting instructions from the higher authorities, the water resources ministry has asked the Water Development Board (WDB) to protect 18 rivers along the bordering areas with India and Myanmar from this month, in order to stop river erosion, said sources in the water resources ministry. Bangladesh lost at least 32,000 acres owing to river erosion along its borders with India and Myanmar in the last 40 years, they added.

Water resources minister Ramesh Chandra Sen told The Independent that he has ordered the authorities concerned to start work to protect the 18 riverbanks on an emergency basis.

“We’ve not enough money to complete the work. But, we’ve to arrange funds to protect the river banks,” he said.

“We’re hopeful that the authorities concerned will successfully implement the protection work  within the next year,” he added.

The director general of Water Development Board, KM Shahiduzzaman, told this correspondent that he was ordered by the water resources minister to protect the 18 rivers within this month.

“There are only Tk. 50 crore allocated in the current fiscal for the purpose. But, we need at least Tk. 105 crore for completion of the work. We’ve asked the contractor concerned for starting the work as soon as possible, and we will pay the bills after arranging funds from the next fiscal year,” he said.

Sources said that the rivers Ichamati, Nagor, Atrai, Brahmaputra, Feni, Kahuya and Panuachara are eroding their banks on the Bangladeshi side, while new riverbeds are emerging on the other side. This problem will recurr if the riverbanks remain unprotected against erosion, they added.

But, the Indian and the Myanmar authorities are protecting their river banks through river protection works.

Fast erosion and changing of courses of rivers have been changing the country’s topographical contour. For common rivers, the middle of a river is treated as the border for two countries.

Sources said that erosion of river often creates riverbeds inside the Indian and Myanmar territories. They added that such topographical changes  create disputes regarding the border area.

Sources also said the Indian border security force and Myanmar have objected to Bangladesh’s initiatives to protect its riverbanks.

Bangladesh has 57 common rivers with India and Myanmar. Of these, 54 are shared with India, while the rest are shared with Myanmar.