IT IS unacceptable that 40 per cent of the construction work of haor crops protection embankments in Sunamganj remained unaccomplished on Saturday, three days after the February 28 deadline, stoking up farmers’ fears that flash flood may damage their crop again as it did in 2017. Water resources ministry, as New Age reported on Sunday, allotted Tk 177 crore for the construction and repairs of 550 kilometres of embankments along 54 haors in the district. Farmers of different areas in the district alleged that the project implementation committees had not only failed to complete the embankment construction but also bedevilled the projects with various irregularities, including corruption. Sunamganj was the worst hit district by the flash flood caused by excessive rainfall and onrush of hilly water from the upstream, damaging standing boro paddy and causing heavy losses to the farmers in the past year.
According to the statistics of Haor Advocacy Platform, farmers of low-lying haor areas could not harvest crops seven times between 2001 and 2016. Incessant rain for nine days coupled with the onrush of water from the hills in bordering areas triggered flash floods in the greater Sylhet region and adjacent districts in 2017, inundating 1,29,172 hectares of farmland. There is no gainsaying that the flash flood could be prevented or better managed if the embankments intended to protect farmland from flood were constructed in time previously. The state minister for finance and planning blamed serious irregularity and negligence in constructing haor protection embankments for the suffering and distress of farmers. The Sunamganj Water Development Board remark that it was expecting the remaining work to be completed by the next week may come as an auspicious piece of information. The Department of Agricultural Extension had set a target of boro farming on 2,24,000 hectares of land this year and the target has been fulfilled. But the chilling fact remains that standing boro paddy of 1,66,612 hectares out of a total 2,23,082 hectares of wetland in the district was damaged badly by early flash flood towards the end of March that affected 3.5 lakh families. Organisations of the farmers and rights activists, however, claimed that more than 90 per cent of the standing crops was damaged by the flood.
Be that as it may, none wants to witness the same scenario this time again. We want to repose our trust in the Sunamganj Water Development Board’s expectations. If the expectations should come true, the disaster of the past year could be averted. Or else the government must take legal action against the people involved in the construction work of haor crops protection embankments for failing to accomplish their task in time.
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