Work not finished despite extending time

People are trying to protect a dam in Bishwambhar upazila of Sunamganj on Tuesday.Khalil Rahman

The Project Implementation Committee (PIC) of the Water Development Board could not finish the work of repairing and construction of dams even after extending the time resulting in endangering the crops in haor.

The water resources ministry had asked the authorities concerned to finish work of all the dams within 28 February.

Later, at the request of the board, the time was extended for another 10 days. But even then the work was not finished. In addition to the construction of dam, the repair work of 135 closures (special infrastructure) for controlling the water of flash floods has not been done properly.

According to the Sylhet divisional commissioner and Sunamganj deputy commissioner's office, cracks have appeared in 25 places of the dams in the last three days. Almost all of the 135 closures are in critical condition.

According to the reports at local levels, new cracks appeared on several haor protection dams in Dharmapasha on Tuesday. Most of the dams, which were built abruptly, are being overflowed

To protect the crops, local farmers have been working voluntarily on the dam all night. In some haors, upazila administration, officials of Water Development Board and local public representatives were with the farmers.

The officials of the Water Development Board in Sunamganj had sent a report on the progress of dam repair to its headquarters last week. It said that a total of Tk 1.23 billion has been spent so far for the repair of dams. Of which, Tk 660 million has been paid.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Sunamgnaj’s district commissioner Md Jahangir Hossain said, some 135 closures and almost all the haor protecting dams are at risk.

“Every now and then we are receiving news that the dams are overflowing or the dams have collapsed. All the government agencies, including the Water Development Board, along with the locals are working to protect the dams. In addition, a probe committee has been formed to investigate the collapse of the dam of Tanguar haor.

According to the figures of Department of Agricultural Extension, there is a target to produce 1.3 million tonnes of paddy from the haors from in seven districts – Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Sunamganj, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Habiganj and Brahmanbaria.

Paddy from haor is harvested earlier in the Boro season. If this paddy is damaged, the price of rice goes up in the market.

Bimal Chandra Som, head of the committee formed to probe the collapse of the Tanguar Haor dam and deputy director of the Department of Agricultural Extension in Sunamganj, told Prothom Alo, “Now our priority is to ensure that there is no more collapse of dams. We have also started the investigation.”

Sources at the Department of Agricultural Extension in Sunamganj said water has entered five out of 95 haors of the district after breaking dams. So far 305 hectares of crops have been submerged. However, water has not yet entered the largest Shanir haor.

Incessant rainfall over Meghalaya and Cherrapunji in India causes the flash flood.

The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre said that Cherrapunji recorded 434 millimetres of rainfall on Tuesday.

The water of the rivers in Sylhet and Sunamganj was stable yesterday. However, in the next couple of days, the water level in Netrokona and Kishoreganj rivers may rise to the danger level.

Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, executive engineer of the forecast centre, told Prothom Alo that additional measures have been suggested to keep the dams safe.

*This report appeared on the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu