Low areas inundated as rivers swell abnormally

Emran Hossain | Published: 00:00, Jun 06,2020


Major rivers in Bangladesh are flowing at a level that was last seen at this time of the year 1988, when the country saw one of its worst floods in the recorded history, said farmers, agriculturists and flood forecasters.

They said that they did not see the rivers behave in such unpredictable ways in many years and linked it to heavy rains that continued on an off ever since the super cyclone Amphan hit on May 20.

Farmers and agriculturists in central Bangladesh saw many rice fields of a late boro variety got submerged in matter of hours recently.

‘Standing boro crops on 33 hectares have completely been destroyed as water gradually submerged nearly 250 hectares of low-lying agricultural land,’ said Muhammad Moshiur Rahman, upazila agricultural officer, Mirzapur, Tangail.

Bangshi River, originating from the Jamuna, started swelling on May 27, rapidly rising in the next three days and then stabilised to the level abnormal in this time of the year, he said.

‘We were not expecting the river to rise this way before the end of June or until the first week of July,’ said Ripon Rajbangshi, a farmer in Mirzapur.

Ripon was lucky to reap his half-ripe boro rice cultivated on 45 decimals but many of his colleagues did not. The fields that usually took 15 to 20 days to go completely under water were submerged in a day.

Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre engineer Sarder Udoy Raihan said that the water level in the Jamuna River at the moment was almost similar to the level observed at this time in 1988.

He said that Amphan caused untimely heavy rains in Bangladesh and upstream across the border for hours generating a huge amount of water which is mainly responsible for the unusual river swelling.

BUET’s Institute of Water Modelling professor AKM Saiful Islam said that cyclone Nisharga that hit Mumbai on Wednesday caused more rains in the upstream with more rains occurring under the influence monsoon around the corner.

‘There is no risk of flood in a week or so but we are going to see a lot of water this year,’ said Saiful.

The FFWC recorded close to four meter rise in water levels in the 24 hours until 9:00am Friday as its 50 river gauging stations reported continued river swelling.

The river Muhuri rose 3.79 metres during the time while The Halda, Matamuhuri, Meghna, Gumti, Khowai, Kuhsiyara, Surma and Ganges swelled half a metre or close, said the FFWC.

Many areas in northern, north-eastern and western Bangladesh recorded extremely heavy rains, up to 189 mm, during the reported period while similar rainfall was recorded in the upstream in Assam and Meghalaya and Tripura and Sikkim.

The New Age correspondent in Lalmonirhat reported that rising rivers submerged 62 shoals in the last 48 years, though the Teesta was flowing 42cm below the danger level.

Water Development Board executive engineer Golam Mostafa Swapan said that India opened all gates at the Farakka Barrage Thursday afternoon.

The 1988 flood began in August and continued through September.

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