On 20 May 2022, a Meet the Press organized by LEDARS at Humayun Kabir Balu Auditorium of Khulna Press Club where Journalists and civil society leaders have demanded special allocation in the national budget to deal with the disasters risks of South West Coast.
Mr. Mohan Kumar Mondal, Executive Director of LEDARS delivered the keynote speech at Meet the Press. Under the Moderator of Sundarbans and Coast Protection Coordinator Mr. Nikhil Chandra Bhadra, former President of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, Mr. Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul, former President of Khulna Press Club, Mr. Maqbul Hossain Mintu, Khulna Bureau Chief of Kaler Kanth, Mr. Geirang Nandi, General Secretary of Civic Solidarity, Mr. Sharifuzzaman Sharif, Khulna District Climate Advisory Forum, President Mr. M. Nazmul Azam David, BAPA and Water Keeper Bangladesh, Mr. Sheikh Noor Alam, Executive Director of Faith in Action, Mr. Nirpen Vaidya, Ms Sakila Parveen of Conscious Organization, etc, attended the program.
According to Meet the Press, climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity today. Although Bangladesh’s contribution to global warming is the lowest (only 0.3%), Bangladesh is one of the countries most affected by disasters. Due to global warming and climate change, polar ice melting is accelerating and sea level is raising day by day, cyclones, tidal surge and salinity have increased significantly in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. According to IPCRI data, disasters in the world have increased 10 times. Due to its geographical location, disasters caused by the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean hits Bangladesh repeatedly. 70%+ of the total sea storms that pass over the country has passed over Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat districts. But the infrastructure of this region is very weak. About 5700 km. embankment is very fragile. There are still many places where the slightest tide will break and flooded the area. The houses of the people in this area are made of mud, wood and tin which are not disaster resistant. Shelters are very few in proportion to the population. In every disaster, people’s accumulated savings and wealth are washed away. As a result of escalating disasters, the people of the southwest coast will suffer huge financial losses every year, including food shortages, health risks, loss of livelihoods, malnutrition, increased diseases due to lack of fresh water. In coastal areas, salinity has increased by 26% over the past 35 years. 73% people of sub-clan are deprived of clean water. Due to salinity, the production of agricultural crops is decreasing alarmingly. In addition, as a result of increasing salinity, pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure and uterus infections among pregnant mothers living in this area have increased alarmingly.
It is also said that despite all this, Bangladesh’s southwest coastal region provides a large portion of the national budget. Direct and indirect financial contribution of Sundarbans is Tk 5,870 crore annually. Fishery resources in the region include prawns, crabs and crabs. Shrimps and crabs, Kunchia are earning a lot of foreign exchange by exporting them. The people of southwest coastal areas of Bangladesh did not get their fair share in the budget. Last year and this year, 3 mega projects have been approved but their work has not started yet. People are still living unprotected and inhuman lives. In this context we have held 2 meetings in Satkhira on 18th, Shyamnagar and Koyra disaster affected areas on 19th and talked to people.
In the recommendations raised, it is said to protect the southwest coastal area by declaring the districts of Satkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat as climate prone or disaster prone areas and to give special allocation in the budget in the financial year 2022-23, to rebuild permanent and strong embankments keeping in mind the climate change and disasters. Construction of large reservoirs for sustainable and permanent solution of drinking water, construction of adequate cyclone shelters, formation of Coastal Development Board, one house one farm scheme to one house one shelter program, massive tree plantation program along the river banks and effective measures to protect the Sundarbans are the effective measures can be taken to protect the lives of the people here.