Over 5,000 families in Naria, Shariatpur became homeless in last three months as the Padma devoured a vast area on its right bank.
The Mokterer Char and the Kedarpur unions fully disappeared while the Garishar and the Charatra unions were partially devoured by the erosion besides Ward No 2 and 4 of Naria Municipal town, Naria upazila nirbahi officer Sanjida Yeasmin told New Age Wednesday.
Amir Hossain who lost his home two months ago, said that he never saw the Padma in such fury in 80 years since he was born in Naria.
Naria is 20 km below the site of the under construction Padma Bridge.
He expressed fears that the Padma was changing its course due to construction of the bridge across it.
The Padma just eroded village after village making many wealthy paupers overnight, he said.
Villagers said that they helplessly saw the mighty Padma devouring more than 300 business offices in the 200-year old Mulfotganj Bazar, two government primary schools, 10 mosques, several temples including 100-year old Das Para Ram Mandir, a part of the Naria upazila health complex, a school for special child and the Naria-Kederpur Road.
They said that the administration showed total indifference to erosions of such unprecedented magnitude though they anticipated what was coming.
Villagers said that for its destructive capacity the Padma is called ‘Kirtinasha’ throughout greater Faridpur district.
They said the Padma continuously eroded its right bank since 2012 and the erosions became devastating two years later.
They said that this year four storied buildings also disappeared in their areas as the authorities paid no attention to protect them from the fury of the Padma.
Kederpur union’s former chairman Imam Hossain Dewan asked the government to declare the obliterated areas and the areas facing further erosions as a disaster zone.
He said that even those who were well to do until the devastations struck them had no choice but to use others’ shelters.
Bangladesh Water Development Board sub-divisional engineer Mohammad Tarek Hasan denied the allegation that the authorities showed indifference to the dangers looming since 2014.
He said that the WDB built one km of temporary embankment to save Shureshwari Darbar Sharif and the adjacent areas.
He said that the WDB was trying to reduce the speed of erosion by dumping geo-textile bags worth Tk seven crore.
Homeless villagers said that the government could protect the area by taking steps in due time.
They said geo-textile bags were dumped as an eye-wash knowing full well that it would not solve the problem.
But dumping geo-textile bags is favoured as it fills the greed of the powerful people, they said.
During visit to Naria on Tuesday, water resources minister Anwar Hossain responding to reporters’ questions admitted that there had been corruption in dumping geo-textile bags and boulders.
He also said that due to bureaucratic complexity construction of embankments and dredging a nine km stretch of the Padma at cost of Tk 1,097 crore was getting delayed.
He said that the project was approved by the government in January.
He said that implementation of the project would begin in the dry season.
During visit to Naria on Tuesday New Age saw many families erecting temporary shelters on waysides.
Businessman Shiraj who lost his two-storied building two months back now lives in a wayside shanty with his family of five including son Shaharuo Khan who had to drop out of school as a student of class seven.
Sanjida Yeasmin said several historical establishments including a Mughal era fort, writer Abu Ishaq’s house, Shureshwar Darbar Sharif were facing the risk of erosion.
Asked for comment, Bangladesh River Research Institution director Lutfor Rahman said that Padma’s course changing was a natural phenomenon and it might change its course again due to the bridge project.
He said that char erosion might save the area.
Shayamol Pain of Bashtola, Naria municipal town, said that the Padma devoured at least five square km area in the two unions and Naria municipal towns two wards.
In Zajira, at least 100 families were made homeless by the erosion, said UNO Rahela Rahmat Ullah.