Farmers lament at Sunamganj haor

Farmers harvest their half-ripen Boro crop as flash flood damages the crop in Chaptir haor, Dirai, Sunamganj on 7 April 2022Khalil Rahman/Prothom Alo

People were seen harvesting their half-ripened Boro crop in the heat of the summer sun at Chaptir haor near the Tazpur and Kachua villages in Dirai upazila of Sunamganj on Thursday as flash floods inundated the whole area. Some were taking the crops by small boats to the shore. Women and children were carrying that half-ripened crop to home.

Sanjay Das, 63, was resting under the shade in a corner of the his yard at home. When asked what he would do with this rice, Sanjay Das said, “We have become paupers as the whole haor has gone under water. Neither is there rice nor any straw. Now what will happen to our cattle? That’s why we are cutting the half-ripenned crop. The crop is not suitable for people to eat.”

People of 46 villages from Jagdal, Karimpur and Tarol unions in Dirai upazila have croplands in Chaptir haor. People could have started harvesting ripened crops if they had got another week. But that half-ripened crop is now underwater due to flash floods.

Pensive Abul Hossain, 50, was sitting on the bank of the haor in Majhhati in Kachua village. He is from Tajpur. He has been living in a makeshift house with his family members since Bangla calendar month Kartik for the sake of farming. He was supposed to return home with his crops, but he sighing in despair.

Abul Hossain said he and his five sons tilled 12 acres of leased land in the haor. It cost him around Tk 120,000. Some of the money was borrowed. He was supposed to pay his loans after harvesting. “What would we eat now? How would we pass a year?” lamenting Abul Hossain said.

Another farmer Afaz Mia, 40, was talking to a few other farmers on the banks of the haor. All his anger is directed to the work on the embankments. He said this haor would not have gone under water if the work of the embankment was done on time. The quality of work was substandard and there was lack of supervision of the work. “Awami League men constructed the embankment. That’s why nobody wants to say anything.”

There has been heavy rainfall in India’s Meghalaya and Cherrapunji for one week, leading to flash floods and a rise the water level in the rivers and haors in Sunamganj. As a result, crops in all the haors in Sunamganj are under the threat of inundation.

Crops are being submerged as one after another embankment are eroding. People have been working voluntarily to repair the levees. The crops in Tanguar haor in Tahirpur went under water due to erosion of embankment on Saturday. Erosion of embankment at Chaptir haor is the latest such incident.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Sunamganj deputy commissioner Md Jahangir Hossain said, “Admin officials, people’s representatives, and farmer are all in the field. We have been trying hard to protect the crops in haor areas. Major haors are still safe. We hope the situation will improve fast.”