Central dists brace for fresh flood as north endures 4th wave

40,000 waterlogged in Rangpur city

Emran Hossain in Dhaka and Zakir Hossain in Rangpur | Published: 00:13, Sep 29,2020


Bangladesh’s north is reeling from the fourth wave of monsoon flood as major northern rivers continued swelling rapidly, some of them nearly half a meter in the last 24 hours until 9:00am on Monday.

Water Development Board’s north region chief Jyoti Prashad Ghosh said that a huge amount of water was being released from the Gajoldoba and Deonai barrages with strong possibilities of the rivers discharging more water over next few days.

The continued onrush of water from upstream is likely to trigger fresh flood in central Bangladesh in the next two to three days, warned flood forecasters.

Until Monday afternoon, seven northern rivers were spilling their banks in eight districts, with three of them flowing over half a metre above their danger levels.

Although flood forecasters said that the flood is likely to be brief, it still could mean serious losses for thousands of farmers who just spent a lot of lent money in removing mud dumped on their crop fields by three previous waves of flood extending from late June to late August. In central Bangladesh farmers also spent a lot of money in clearing their crop fields of huge debris of uprooted trees and other detritus washed away from upstream areas and dumped on their fields by floodwater.

Besides aman, there are pockets of vegetable growers in central Bangladesh meeting a significant part of the demand for vegetables but they are about to see their production affected this year.

There are also other crops grown in the districts of central Bangladesh, the cultivation of which would be at stake because of the potential swelling of the rivers.

‘This is a very bad news not only for crop growers but also for fish farmers,’ said Ripon Rajbagshi, a fish farmer at Mirzapur, Tangail.

He said that they had just invested in fish farming assuming that the flood was over but the river started swelling again.   

Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre executive engineer Arifuzzaman Bhuyan said that the flood would be brief and may affect parts of Rajbari, Faridpur and Munshiganj.

Thousands of farmers in north are gripped by fear of losing their crops, especially aman, with thousands of hectares of crop field completely submerged in floodwater since the fourth wave hit northern Bangladesh on September 16.

Flood water submerged 19,958 hectares of aman field in Netrokona until Monday, said Habibur Rahman, deputy director at the district’s agricultural extension office.

The district was behind its aman cultivation target because of the first three flood waves and about 46,000 farmers are set to lose their aman crop because of the latest flood.

‘Farmers are also set to be late in planting winter vegetables as according to the forecast there would be rain throughout the first week of October,’ said Habib.

Excessive soil moisture rots vegetable seed. Commercial vegetable farming has not expanded in Netrokona as farmers there grow vegetables mostly for their own consumption.

Vegetable cultivation have severely been impacted when the first three waves of flood that came in quick successions in less than a month caused about 40 per cent of Bangladesh go under water in late July.

Years of encroachment left rivers with poor navigability which is responsible for compounding flood impacts by slowing water drainage.

New Age correspondent in Lalmonirhat reported that about 40,000 people remained waterlogged in Rangpur city where the drainage system collapsed after record amount of 449mm rain between Saturday and Sunday.

On Monday, the city’s panel mayor Mahmudur Rahman could not say for certain when the waterlogging would come to an end.

‘Water has nowhere to go as the canals draining it out of the city have all been encroached on by people and rivers around the city are overflowing,’ said Mahmud.

Waterlogging turned so bad in parts of the city that it forced about 3,500 people to leave their houses and seek lodging at government schools.

‘We have not seen such a disaster in decades,’ said Halima Khatun, a middle-aged woman sheltered at the city’s Mulatol.

Parts of Rangpur city were without power for two days.

Over 1.5 lakh people are still stranded in eight districts of Rangpur division because of the flood with people living in 654 chars passing their days in immense hardship.

Rivers have devoured 338 houses in the division between Sunday and Monday.

Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre warned that the Brahmaputra, the Jamuna, the Ganges and the Padma might continue to swell through Wednesday.

The rivers flowing above their danger levels are the Jamuna, Dharla, Jamuneswari, Karatoa, Gur, Punorbhaba and Atrai.

Bangladesh Meteorological Department recorded the country’s highest rainfall of 191mm in the 24 hours until 6:00am on Monday at Rajarhat of Rangpur.

The met office said that there would be spells of rain with short breaks through mid-October as it its severity would gradually recede before the monsoon finally withdrawn at the end of next month.

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