Damaged embankment accelerates risk in Koyra

Sand is used to repair a 45-metre stretch of the flood control dam on Shakbria river broke in Gotir Gheri village of Uttar Bedkasi uion in Koyra upazila of Khulna. Picture was taken recently.Prothom Alo

The embankment in Koyra upazilla of Khulna is damaged every year as monsoon begins. Vast areas are inundated which destroy houses and crops. There have been erosions in various places of about 12 km embankment of Shakbaria river and Kapotakshya river in Koiyra even before the monsoon this year. Residents of five unions are at risk of collapse.

Locals objected that the public representatives are informed about the damage several times, they only make empty promises. No one takes initiative to repair the collapsed embankment. However, the public representatives say that when the matter was reported to the officials of the Water Development Board (WDB), they just made excuses.

Deputy assistant engineer of WDB Khulna, Romit Hossain Moni said, "We have submitted the list of risky embankments in Koyra to the higher authorities. Work will be done on an urgent basis in all those places before monsoon.”

WDB sources said that after Cyclone Ampan and Yaas, broken embankments were repaired at 21 places in the upazila. Besides, 20 kilometers of damaged embankments were repaired by filling with soil and sandbags. At present, more than seven kilometres of renovation work is underway. Yet nine to 10 km embankment is still at risk.

Local residents, public representatives and WDB officials said, currently  about 12 km of embankments of  no.6 and no.4  Koyra ring  embankment, Ghatakhali, Harinkhola, Madinabad Launchghat-adjacent area, Mathbaria, 2 no. Koyra, Hogla, Gazipara, Golkhali, Hajatkhali, Jorshing and Maheshpur area are in an unsafe condition. If the water in the river rises above the normal tide, water may enter the localities by overflowing the embankment. Apart from this, eight sluice gates for water supply in Kapotaksha and Shakbaria rivers are lying out of order. The sluice gate of Shakbaria river adjacent to Nayani and Sutia Bazar is nearly broke. Water is entering the locality from the river as the soil sat on the both side.

Hemlata Mandal ,50, lives next to the embankment of Shakbaria river. This correspondent talked to her on Friday. She pointed to the collapsed embankment and said that it had broken twice before. Although a big embankment was built later, it also broke a few days ago. It happened as the embankment was built with sand. Water will enter the village anytime. This flood will break us.

The UP chairman of Uttar Bedkashi union parishad Sardar Nurul Islam said, “An embankment was built using new technology in Gazipara and Gatirgheri area of my union. Damages appeared within a year on it.” He urged the WDB officials to adopt a sustainable solution.

This correspondent found out that the embankment of Shakbaria river in Katkata area of North Bedkashi Union is about to collapse due to displacement of CC block caused by severe erosion . About four kilometres of embankment slopes from North Bedkashi to South Bedkashi have been eroded by landslides. In some places the embankment shrank as the soil on both sides has eroded.

Mozaffar Hossain, a member of ward no. 8 of South Bedkashi union parishad, said, "Shakbaria and Kapotaksha are flowing on both sides of our union. The Union is gradually becoming an isolated island due to continuous erosion of two rivers. Even 10 years ago, the distance between the two rivers was more than two kilometres. It now estimates 300 metres due to erosion every year.

Moni Shankar Roy, a resident of Nayani area and a member of ward no. 2 of Maheshwaripur UP, blames the indifference of the authorities in repairing the risky embankment. He said, "We are worried about damaged embankment and sluice gate. WDB is delaying to take measures. The people of the area become worried whenever the weather turns hostile or the river gets raging.

Erosion appears on embankment of the Koyra river in North Maheshwaripur Singherchar at some points. Bipradas Mandal (40), a resident of the area, said that 11 bighas of his 15 bighas of land had gone into the river due to massive erosion. Now they are in fear of losing their homes due to the new collapse of the embankment. The public representatives who are informed about this are only making empty promises. No one is taking initiative to repair the embankment.

Chairman of Maheshwaripur UP Shahnewaz Shikari said that the embankment is breaking every year. People are losing everything. High tide can cause severe damage in the few places where the embankment has eroded. If the embankment breaks, the entire union will be submerged. The issue has been discussed with WDB officials several times. He said, river training is required for a permanent solution. Concrete blocks should be installed for that.

Ranjan Mridha, president of Koyra Unnayan Sangram Samannay Committee, said that the rise in sea level due to climate change is now visible. If the height of the embankment is not increased, the long-term damage to the coastal areas will continue to increase. The height of Koyra embankment should be increased by at least 10 feet.

WDB Khulna executive engineer, Ashraful Alam said, the main problem of Koyra Upazila, which is surrounded by rivers on three sides, is river erosion. When the tidal pressure increases in the river, it causes erosion somewhere.

He said, WDB is working on permanent solution. A new megaproject to build an embankment will start soon. It will reduce the risk.

He further said, a list of various points that have been damaged has been made. Repair works have also been started. Repair works will be conducted in other places before monsoon as well.

*This report, appeared in Prothom Alo Bangla online, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat