Coastal news

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Bhola forest department is set to sue 15 people including three former union parishad chairmen in two cases today for chopping down over 30,000 trees at the Char Bestin mangrove forest in the coastal areas.

Each of the case documents named 15 persons and around 150 to 200 others unnamed, Masud Sarder, range officer for Kukrimukri told The Daily Star yesterday.

“I have sent the documents to Bhola Judicial Magistrate’s Court through the divisional forest officer of Bhola,” he added.

The three former UP chairmen are Jahangir Hossain of Gajalia UP, Samsuzzaman Likon of Panpatti UP and Mizanur of Dakua UP, all under Galachipa upazila.

Bellal Hossain Shishir, inspector of Bangladesh Ain Sahayata Kendra, is the main accused in both the cases.

A group of around 400 people felled the trees on Thursday destroying the much of the forest.

The forest official noted his department planted the trees in 2004-05 and 2005-06 fiscal years.

Source: The Daily Star: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=191599

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Shefali Begum tends sunflower plants at her field at Shialy village in Patuakhali Sadar upazila. Cultivation of the plant producing nutritious oil seeds has become a good earning source for many people in the area recently.Photo: STARSohrab Hossain, Patuakhali

Cultivation of oil seeds like sesame, mustard and sunflower are gaining popularity among Patuakhali farmers as it helps them to avoid high cost for bottled edible oil and add to family income.

This year farmers cultivated oil seeds on about 35,000 acres of land — sesame on about 25,000 acres, sunflower on 7,000 acres and mustard on 3,000 acres of land in the district against last year’s 15,000 acres, said DAE sources.

Interestingly, a good number of female farmers are getting involved in sunflower cultivation on their land.

“I cultivated sunflower on 0.50 acres of land. I hope to get 8 to 10 maunds (a maund is equal to around 44 kg in local measure) of seeds that will bring me 190 to 200 litres of oil. It is sufficient to meet my family’s yearly demand,” said Rashida Begum, 45, a farmer of Shially village under Sadar upazila.

Urmila Rani, 50, of the same village said she cultivated sunflower on her 0.50 acres of lands to meet the family need as prices of edible oil is on the rise.

Eunus Howlader, 60, of Keshobpur village under the same upazila, who cultivated sunflower on one acre of land, said he did not have to buy edible oil from market during the last three years as oil seed from his field is more than enough to meet his family requirement.

“I learnt from a doctor that oil from sunflower seed is better than bottled oil from the market,” he said.

Mostafa Kamal, another farmer of the village, said he sold sunflower oil of Tk 5,000 after meeting his family requirement.

Local farmers are encouraged to cultivate oil seeds including sunflower, mustard and sesame as it helps them to get edible oil at a low cost while price of edible oil in local market is too high, said Abdul Awal, deputy assistant agriculture officer of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).

“Sunflower cultivation is easier, cheaper and more profitable. It requires very little irrigation and small amounts of fertilisers and insecticides. A kg of sunflower seeds brings 500 to 600 grams of oil, an amount more than that from any other oil seeds,” he added.

DAE is trying to encourage local farmers to cultivate oil seeds through a five-year project titled ‘Market Infrastructures Development Project for Char Lands Region’. The project started in 2009 and will end in 2013. Under the project DAE is providing training to farmers to hand over new technologies to cultivate oil seeds in these areas.

Brac also brought 180 acres of lands under sunflower cultivation in Sadar, Kalapara and Mirzaganj upazilas of Patuakhali district.

The NGO is implementing a two-year (January 2010 — December 2011) project titled ‘Crop Intensification for Achieving Food Sufficiency in the Coastal Region of Bangladesh’.

Sunflower cultivation on an acre of land costs around Tk 7,000 to 9,000 and oil worth Tk 30,000 to 36,000 is produced from there, said Ashraful Islam, regional manager of Brac.

Weather and soil in Patuakhali district are suitable for oil seed cultivation, DAE sources said, adding that 12 to 16 maunds of seeds are produced in an acre of land and 400 to 600 grams of oil is produced from per kg of seeds.

Local farmers are getting more and more interested in oil seed cultivation as the prices of oil are on the rise, AZM Momtazul Karim, deputy director of DAE in Patuakhali.

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Enforce rules strictly

We had been alerted to contaminated ships heading towards our shores in the recent past. That Bangladesh coasts have become a dumping ground for contaminated scrap ships is an impression difficult to be brushed aside.

There has been marked increase in import of scrap ships over the last four years. Seventy one No Objection Certificates (NOCs) were issued by the Shipping Directorate for import of old ships in only forty one working days from April 7 to June 7, this year. Moreover, a whopping 23 NOCs were given in just one day.

All these in defiance of the High Court orders banning import of old ships without environment clearance documents from concerned authorities. In addition, the court also set 18 conditions to be met by the importers prior to import of old ships, including, meeting safety requirements of the workers and the yards and opening of training centre for them. The directives have been dodged by the concerned authorities and the business operators.

A high official of the Shipping directorate informs that it is not possible to scrutinize a ship before it arrives. On arrival, it is thoroughly examined by members of special committee and if found free of hazardous elements and meeting other conditions it is then allowed to berth in the yard.

However, it is most unlikely that the operators are meeting the requirements set by the court. There have been dreadful accidents in the ship breaking yards; there are hardly any safety measures in operation for the workers; and there is no training arrangements for them as of today, not to speak of poor pay and service conditions of the workers.

By importing toxic ships just for business gain we are not only damaging our environment but also endangering human lives.

The shipping and environment ministry and the business operators have vital roles to play in organizing this industry along proper lines. They should come up with a policy with utmost consideration to health and environment factors, ensure strict implementation of business rules and most notably, stop malpractice in the sector.

Source Daily Star : http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=191090

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Tidal surge during the last couple of days is causing extensive damage to this embankment having a paved road at Kakpara in Pekua upazila under Cox’s Bazar district.Photo: STARUnb, Bhola

Around 35,000 families, marooned here during tidal surge due to depression in the Bay, are passing their days amid food and shelter crisis.

Several thousand houses in Tulatoli, Majher Char of Bhola Sadar, Syedpur of Daulatkhan upazila, Char Nasrin of Tojmuddin uapzila, Kolatolir Char, Char Nizam of Monpura upazila, Char Kukri-Mukri, Dhalchar, Char Patila and Sikderer Char of Charfassion upazila went under 3/4 feet water on Friday.

Although the water is receding, the victims are now suffering for lack of food. Many of them are also passing days under the open sky as their houses were totally damaged or washed away.

Relief and food items which were distributed among the victims so far were quite insufficient, said an inhabitant of Kolatolir Char of Monpura.

Besides, diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases have broken out in some water-logged areas due to lack of pure drinking water.

Around 50 people were attacked with water-borne diseases in the last two days.

Temporary medical teams have been sent to some affected areas and health officials of upazilas concerned asked to form medical team, said Bhola civil surgeon Dr Sahe Alam Sharif.

Charfassion upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) Nur-e-Alam said 15 tonnes food have been allocated for the victims.

District relief office sources said the extent of loss caused by the depression induced tidal surge has been estimated at Tk 50 core in seven uapzilas of the district.

Fifty four kilometre embankment of the Meghna river here out of 100 km has been affected while 665 km kutcha road and 27 km pucca road damaged, the sources said.

Around 11,000 houses have been damaged either partially or totally while 19,000 acres cropland went under water. Besides, 250 educational and religious institutions were affected and fishes worth Tk about 1 crore washed away.

Source The Daily Star : http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=190995

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Although the heavy rain has tapered off, and the surge and the consequent tidal bore has receded, it has left in its wake severely damaged 50000 acres of cropland and fisheries and affected a large number of families in the coastal areas of the country. While a mix of climatic phenomena is the cause of the heavy downpour, the effect of the low pressure was exacerbated by the high tide that compounded the effect of the sea surge. Reportedly, as many as fifteen south and southeastern districts, were lashed by rains that lasted for almost three days with varying intensity.

The recent rain and tidal surge only expose the fact that the people in the coastal belt are constantly under threat of submersion with the slightest bit of sea swell. It also reinforces the need for the relevant authorities to be constantly ready for such unforeseen eventualities. But most of all, it underscores the need for permanent measures to protect the coastal belt from the consequences of tidal bore.

What has compounded the situation is the fact that most of the affected areas and people are those that had been hit by cyclones Aila and Sidr. These people, still struggling to find their feet, not having received adequate funds for rehabilitation, and having neither a permanent roof over them, have to make do with makeshift arrangements on flood embankments, and have little by way of farmland to generate income.

There is no doubt that the matter has been worsened by the fact that the repair and rehab work in the aftermath of Aila in particular has not been up to scratch. And as reported in this newspaper in April this year, several major breaches were yet to be repaired till then as well as the fact that more than 8,000 households were living on the embankment in Khulna, Satkhira and Bagerhat at that time.

What we must emphasize here is not only that the repair works are taken up immediately, those must be strictly supervised so that the embankments are strong enough to withstand the onslaught of tidal surge, which as per our reports is not so in all cases.

Source – Daily star : http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=190654

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Speakers at a human chain yesterday urged the government to allocate fund in the upcoming budget for the establishment of Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar railway track.

They said the people of Cox’s Bazar were encouraged when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation of the Dohazari-Cox’s Bazar railway project on April 23 this year, as it would connect Cox’s Bazar with Myanmar and other parts of the country through proposed Trans-Asian Railway.

It is known that no initiative has still been taken to implement the project, which has frustrated Cox’s Bazar people, as they thought that the district’s industrial development would be flourished with the implementation of the project, said the speakers.

With the demand of budgetary allocation, they also submitted a memorandum to the prime minister through the deputy commissioner (DC) of Cox’s Bazar.

The human chain was formed in front of municipality office in Cox’s Bazar town organised by Sohai Foundation, Nongar, Pulse Bangladesh, Expawrul, Shabdayan Abrtti Academy, and Coast Trust.

Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=187857

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The gangway of Lebukhali ferry terminal in Patuakhali is submerged by tidal surge and downpour. The photo was taken yesterday. Inset, the capital experiences day-long rain yesterday. More photos on page 5. Photo: SusHanto Ghosh and Palash Khan Staff Correspondent

The depression over the Bay made landfall between the southwestern districts of Bangladesh and West Bengal, triggering tidal surge that destroyed homes and crops, damaged dams and disrupted communication in the wee hours yesterday.

Large areas of the coastal districts, including chars, were flooded by the surge as high as six feet and fish enclosures washed away.

All fishing boats and trawlers in the North Bay have been advised to remain in a safe place until further notice.

Our Patuakhali correspondent said double-decker launch Achol-6, allegedly with 2,000 people on board, got beached near Bakherganj upazila due to the tidal surge. Yesterday, another launch Achol-5 went to its rescue but failed to get the vessel back on water. It, however, could rescue the passengers of Achol-6 around 3:00pm.

Mostafizur Rahman, deputy director of BIWTA in Patuakhali, said they suspended movement of all single-decker launches in all 20 internal routes of the district yesterday.

Vast areas of all seven upazilas of the district got flooded by the tidal surge.

All ferry terminals in the district went under water disrupting road communication. Pontoons of Lebukhali, Kalapara, Mohipur, and Hazipur ferry terminals on Kuakata-Dhaka Road, Boga ferry terminal on Patuakhali-Baufal Road, Galachipa ferry terminal on Patuakhali-Galachipa Road, Parakunjo ferry terminal on Patuakhali-Mirzaganj Road also went under water.

Over 50 chars under Patuakhali, Kalapara, Mirzaganj, Galachipa, Dasmina, Baufal, and Dumki upazilas went under 4-5 feet deep water.

Flood-control dams in different places under Mirzaganj and Kalapara upazila were damaged. A sluice gate of Nilganj area of Kalapara upazila was destroyed and two villages–Sultanganj and Nilganj–were inundated, said an official of Kalapara Water Development Board.

Two-thirds of the district town itself went under water. Torrential rain continued to paralyze life there.

Fishes worth over Tk 1.5 crore was lost as many enclosures was washed away by the surge, sources in the District Fisheries Office said.

In Barguna, strong current damaged a portion of the 15km dam of the Water Development Board in Amtoli upazila. The gushing water flooded crop fields and inundated houses. High winds uprooted electric poles and trees, disrupting utility services.

In Sharankhola of Bagerhat, many people were marooned as the tidal surge devastated the area. More than 100 homes were washed away and at least 30 under-construction houses for the Sidr victims were damaged.

In Pirojpur, a dam on the Baleshwar in Zia Nagar upazila was breached by the tidal surge and it inundated low-lying areas, including Khol Southkhali, Patua and Balipara.

The tidal surge also flooded Mathbaria Bazar, Majherchar and Sapleja area in Mathbaria upazila and Beeldumuria, Panakhali and Sathia in Nazimpur upazila of the district.

In Cox’s Bazar, low-lying areas of Cox’s Bazar, Teknaf, Moheshkhali and Kutubdia also went under 3-4 feet water.

Our Chittagong correspondent reports: Halishahar, Agrabad and coastal areas of Patenga were waterlogged after the 2-4 feet higher-then-usual tidal surge.

Five fishing trawlers sank in the Meghna in the tidal surge and bad weather in Telirchar area of Ramgati upazila Friday afternoon, UNB reports.

Locals said the surge was 3-4 feet high. Belal Hossain, chairman of Char Abdullapur union, said heavy rain damaged 10-15 houses in Telirchar and inundated many char areas leaving 15,000 people marooned.

Our correspondent Manikganj said ferry service on Patuari-Dauladia route resumed at 9:30am yesterday after a 12-hour disruption due to stormy weather.

Hundreds of vehicles including buses were seen waiting on both sides of the Padma.

According to a special bulletin from the Met office, the depression over southwestern part of Bangladesh and adjoining West Bengal moved slightly north-northwestwards, weakened into a land depression and was still hovering over the Ganges delta area of West Bengal and adjoining Bangladesh.

It is likely to move in land further in a north-northwesterly direction and gradually weaken, said the Bulletin.

Squally weather may continue near maritime ports and coastal areas of Bangladesh and it is likely to improve later today, said an official of the Met office.

Source Daily Star : http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=190442

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