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Sluice gates made for boon have turned into bane: People of 2 dozen villages in Barguna suffer from waterlogging

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sohrab Hossain, Patuakhali


Persistent waterlogging often grips the nearby farmlands as tidal water remains stagnant there due to permanent closure of this sluice gate on Gabtala canal in Bamna upazila under Barguna district. PHOTO: STAR


People of around two dozen of villages, especially those on the bank of Bishkhali River in Bamna upazila under Barguna district, are suffering from waterlogging for long as 20 sluice gates meant for saving the areas from tidal surges do not run properly. Upcoming cultivation of aman paddy, the main crop in the region, faces uncertainly due to the situation.

The Water Development Board (WDB) in 1985 built 20 sluice gates on different canals on the bank of Bishkhali River in all four unions under Bamna upazila to control influx of tidal water. Bamna, Halta, Kholpatua, Chalabhaga and Jafakhali canals have already lost navigability due to siltation.

Once water from tidal surges or rain enters the agricultural lands, it remains stagnant for long. Permanent closures have already been built on four sluice gates in Gabtala, Boro Talassher, Choto Talassher and Oldbamna canals. The years-long problem of waterlogging worsened as cyclones Sidr in 2007, Aila in 2009 and lastly Mahasen on May 16 this year washed away flood control embankments at many places.

As a result at least 30,000 hectares of land remain uncultivated every year, said sources of the upazila administration. “I cultivated aus paddy on 10 acres of land this year but half of the crop rotted due to waterlogging. I face uncertainty regarding aman cultivation this season as we have no way to remove water from the land,” said Md Abdul Haque, a farmer of Amtali village.

Bimol Chandra Sikder, another farmer of Latabunia village, said, “We don’t get water when we need it in dry season while our land remains under water during the rainy season. This is very harmful for our cultivation. Sluice gates were made for our benefit but now it has become a curse to us.” During cyclone Mahasen crops on 3,793 acres of land got damaged, causing loss of Tk 12.50 crore, said a source of upazila agriculture office.

Tidal surge and heavy rainfall flooded lowland areas and consequent waterlogging hampered cultivation this year, said Dr Shafiuddin, upazila agriculture officer. The recent cyclone Mahasen washed away about six kilometres of dyke in the upazila. Abu Hanif, an official of WDB in Bamna, said, “Height of the dykes in this area should be higher than the existing ones. But construction work of dykes has remained suspended over legal conflict.”



Source: thedailystar





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