Representatives of the environmental and civic movements have called for urgent action to repair the breaches of embankment along the coast in a press conference at Dhaka on 24 July, 2022. They said that due to the harmful impact of the climate change, the crisis in people’s lives is constantly increasing in the southwestern coastal region (Khulna-Satkhira-Bagerhat) along the Sundarbans. The embankment there has become vulnerable due to natural calamities including one after another cyclone. As a result, the embankment facing breaches due to the pressure of normal tidal water and flooding the vast towns. Recently from July 17, 2022, in Shyamnagar of Satkhira district and Koyra upazila of Khulna district, there have been extensive damages due to inundation of embankment and roads following usual tides and many people have suffered due to the breaches of embankment in various areas of the coast.
Mr. Nikhil Chandra Bhadra, Coordinator of Sundarbans and Coast Protection Movement, presided over the press conference organized by LEDARS and Water Keepers-Bangladesh and Sundarbans and Coast Protection Movement. Mr. Mohan Kumar Mondal, Executive Director of LEDARS, delivered the keynote speech at the press conference. Mr. Sharif Jamil, General Secretary of Bangladesh Environmental Movement (BAPA), Engineer Mr. Prem Kumar Mandal, Organizing Secretary of Khulna District Awami League, Mr. Ashish Kumar Dey, General Secretary of National Committee for the Protection of Seaways and Railways, Scan General Secretary, Mr. Moniruzzaman Mukul, Ms Sakila, General Secretary of Savan Sansthan, Ms Parveen, Shaheed Alim Sahitya Sangsad editor Mr. Sanjidul Hasan and others delivered their speeches in the conference.
BAPA General Secretary, Mr. Sharif Jamil said that the decision to build polders during the Pakistan period was wrong. The embankment around the polder is now the cause of disaster in the region. If the township is cut off from the sea by building an embankment, it cannot survive. Inhabitants of this area have to learn to live with the ocean. For this, a sustainable embankment should be built to protect the vulnerable areas. At the same time, an integrated action plan should be taken for the development of the coast. He called for giving priority to the opinion of the local people in taking up the coastal projects.
Mr. Mohan Kumar Mondal, in his keynote address at the press conference, highlighted the danger of the coast and said that many areas of the sub-districts have been submerged under salt water due to the breaches of the embankment due to the pressure of tidal water in this July. At that time more than hundred villages of Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barisal and Chittagong were flooded. Millions of people have been affected and thousands of families have been forced to leave their homes. In all those areas there is a shortage of fresh water and food.
He also said that Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat are the most vulnerable coastal areas due to geographical location, frequent natural disasters, fragile infrastructure, poverty, long-term salinity, endangered agriculture, etc. The people of that region are losing their dream of survival. We have to give back that dream. The area should be declared a special risk area or climate risk area and an integrated action plan should be adopted.
In the recommendations raised in the press conference, it is said that keeping in mind climate change and disasters, permanent and strong embankments should be rebuilt on the coast. Adequate cyclone shelters should be developed in proportion to the population. Coastal people need sustainable and permanent solutions to fresh water. Following the pattern of one house one farm scheme, ‘one house one shelter’ should be constructed on the coast. To prevent river erosion and land erosion, green belt should be built by massive plantation of trees along the coast. The surrounding area including Sundarbans should be developed as a tourist center. Effective measures should be taken to protect the Sundarbans, the world heritage. Coastal Development Board should be formed for the sake of sustainable development.