‘Dredging only way to prevent annual recurrence of floods in India, Bangladesh’
As Bangladeshi premier proposes joint dredging projects with India, devastating floods have left hundreds dead and millions homeless in both countries
DHAKA, Bangladesh/NEW DELHI
More than 200 people have died and millions left displaced in the severe floods that have swept India’s northeastern region and neighboring Bangladesh.
According to the latest official data, floods and landslides have claimed at least 159 lives in India and over 90 in Bangladesh.
In India, over 5 million people have been displaced in the Assam province. Habitats, croplands, and cattle have been washed away by the waters.
In Bangladesh, which is the seventh most climate-vulnerable nation in the world, floods have wreaked havoc as an estimated 7.2 million people have been affected and are in desperate need of shelter and emergency relief items.
Experts in both countries told Anadolu Agency that there was an immediate need for drudging and desilting rivers to prevent the recurrence of floods, which have become an annual affair in both countries.
Last week, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proposed India undertake a joint river dredging project for the greater interest of the region.
There are 54 common rivers between the two South Asian neighbors and any rise in water levels in India causes disaster in downstream Bangladesh as well.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mahesh Palawat, who heads a private weather agency Skymet in India, said measures like plantation around river embankments, and desilting are required to prevent the tributaries and rivers from getting breached.
Indian environmentalist Ravindra Khaiwal said as floods are breaking records, there was a need to improve disaster management plans.
He also said that to prevent floods, the focus should be on draining management systems in the cities, construction of dams, and river bank management to prevent floods.
Requires proper dredging regularly
Bangladesh has more than 500 rivers dotting its landscape, some of them are big rivers that flow from India.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, many residents of Bangladesh’s most-affected border region of Sylhet demanded that the two main rivers -- Surma and Kushiara -- should be dredged properly and regularly.
“We frequently get information that the government allocates a budget for river dredging, but we don’t see the result of it in our two main rivers that are our lifeline,” Md. Rubel Ahmed, a resident of the Sylhet district said.
The embankments meant to protect millions of people living in 21 coastal districts and other flood-prone areas get damaged in many parts during the seasonal monsoon and minimal pressure of waters gushing from upstream India.
Because of poor embankments, in many parts and water has marooned huge croplands and residential areas, washing out houses and properties.
Bangladesh's Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told Anadolu Agency that his country has a mega plan to strengthen 420 miles (677 km) long coastal embankment to protect millions of country’s people from floods and other natural disasters.
“When we will broaden the embankment 15-20 meters (49-65 feet) from the existing 1-1.5 m, (3-4.9 ft) then we can have mangrove afforestation that will also be a global carbon sinker like the Sundarbans (the world’s largest mangrove forest largely located in Bangladesh and partly in India),” Momen said.