Almost 40 per cent of the construction work of haor crops protection embankments in Sunamganj remained incomplete till Saturday, three days after the February 28 deadline, raising farmers’ fears that flash flood may damage their crop like last year.
Water resources ministry allotted Tk 177 crore to construct and repair a total of 550 kilometre embankments along 54 haors in the district, according to Water Development Board sources.
As per a ministry circular, a total of 975 projects were finalised to construct and repair embankments and the same number of project implementation committees comprising local farmers were also formed.
The ministry had instructed formation of the implementation committees by November 30 to start the project works by December 15, 2017 and complete them by February 28 this year.
But, farmers of different parts in the district alleged that apart from various irregularities, construction work of maximum 60 per cent of the haor crop protection dams was completed till Saturday.
Saidur Rahman, a farmer of village Bhorakhali along Naluar Haor at Jagannathpur, told New Age that they had expected that the work of dams would be completed in time since the embankments had been damaged by flash floods last year as the projects did not end in time.
‘Forty per cent work of the embankment near Bhorakhali Sluice Gate along the Naluar Haor has remained incomplete,’ he claimed.
Tahirpur upazila monitoring committee member Alamgir Hossain, also engineer of the upazila office of Local Government and Engineering Department, said that on average only 50 per cent work of the haor embankment projects were completed so far.
Freedom fighter Bazlul Mazid Chowdhury, convener of Haor Banchaw Sunamganj Banchaw Andolan, a local pressure group, said that they were in fear as the embankment construction and repair was not completed by the stipulated time.
‘The standing boro paddy on vast tracts of marshlands in the district may be damaged if case of any early flash flood like last years,’ he said.
Stating that government officials were claiming that 65 per cent works of the projects were completed so far, he asked, ‘When will be the rest work done? Who will take responsibility if the only annual crop of the haor belt’s farmers is damaged again in early flash flood?’
Sunamganj WDB-1 executive engineer Abu Bakkar Siddique Bhuiyan told New Age that the projects could not be completed in the stipulated time because of delayed beginning of the work.
‘The implementation committees could not start working in time because of slow recession of the haor water this year,’ he said, claiming that they were expecting that the remaining work would be completed within the next week.
Sunamganj deputy commissioner Sabirul Islam told New Age that everything was under their close watch.
‘Steps would be taken against the people concerned if the dams were not completed within
the first week of March,’ he warned.
The district Department of Agricultural Extension had set a target of
boro crop cultivation on 2,24,000 hector land this year and the target has been fulfilled.
According to the DAE, standing boro paddy of 1,66,612 hector out of a total 2,23,082 hector wetlands in the district was damaged badly by early flash flood triggered in the end of last 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 boro was damaged by the floods.