New areas in Bangladesh inundated as India opens Deonai barrage gates

Emran Hossain with Rezaul Karim Manik in Lalmonirhat | Published: 21:02, Jul 31,2020 | Updated: 22:29, Aug 01,2020


Flood inundates village Char Sangrampur at Lauhajang in Munshiganj on July 29. — Sony Ramany

About 10,000 families became stranded after the Jamuneshwari River flooded its banks at Badarganj in Rangpur in north-west Bangladesh as India opened the 18 gates of Deonai Barrage in Uttar Dinajpur early Friday.

The Jamuneswari rose 212cm in 24 hours between Thursday and Friday, especially since the early Friday, to flow 25cm above its danger mark until Friday afternoon.

 ‘It has been a long time people have seen the river to rise so high,’ said water development board sub-assistant engineer Aminul Islam.

He confirmed that India opened all the gates of Deonai barrage in Uttar DInajpur.

Huge onrush of water from upstream also caused unpredictable swelling in rivers downstream the Jamuneshwari such as Punarbhaba over the same period, he said.

The water level in Punarbhaba rose by 223cm flooding low lying areas in Dinajpur.

‘Heavy rains inside Bangladesh could have contributed to the rapid swelling of the rivers as well,’ said Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre sub-divisional engineer Sarder Udoy Raihan.

West Bengal operated the Deonai Barrage whimsically, without sharing any information with Bangladesh, not even before releasing a huge volume of water towards the country, water board officials said.

The sudden opening of the gates of Deonai Barrage brings back the troubling memory of the Teesta Barrage, which is also opened every now and then during monsoon, when India feels like getting rid of excessive water, they said.

The Teesta River continued to rise over the past two days, flowing just 5cm below the danger mark until Friday afternoon, with forecasters warning that the river might cross its danger marks soon.

The Teesta wreak havoc this year as it flowed 50-year high with India opening the Gazaldoba Barrage gates at least half a dozen times since mid-June amid heavy rains.

The Bhugai River at Nakugaon in Sherpur swelled 335cm in the 24 hours till Friday morning.

Sherpur’s Nalitabari upazila nirbahi officer Arifur Rahman said that the Bhugai River was known to be a flashy river and locals were used to its rapid swelling and falling.

‘Some of the roads close to the river got submerged but water did not enter neighbourhoods,’ said Arif.

A flood forecasting centre bulletin showed that the Bhugai was flowing 24cm above the danger level until Friday afternoon.

The sudden release of water by India worsened the flood situation in the north, the worst flood-affected area where thousands are living on embankment and over half a million have been stranded in submerged houses for a month now.

Over five million people have been affected in half of the country in its worst flood in two decades that persisted since June 27.

Thousands of kilometres of roads remain under water and the damages caused to them would not be visible until flood water subsided. Metalled roads could not escape the destruction brought on by the flood.  

Crops on over 1.5 lakh hectares have been damaged and over 200km embankment have been washed away by the flood.

A FFWC bulletin said that the Brahmaputra, Jamuna and Padma might recede slowly until Sunday.

But the rivers around Dhaka would continue to swell through Saturday.

The flood situation in Dhaka city corporations would deteriorate through Saturday while Narayanganj and Brahmanbaria would not get any relief from flood.

The bulletin showed that 19 rivers were flowing above their danger marks at 27 places across Bangladesh and many of them might not fall below their danger marks before the second week of August.

The bulletin also showed that extremely heavy rains were recorded in northern region in the 24 hours until 9:00am Friday.

Bangladesh Meteorological Department predicted light to moderate rains at many places in Rajshahi, Rangpur, Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions.

The Met Office recorded the country’s highest rainfall of 130mm in Rangpur in the 24 hours until 9:00am Friday.

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