Dhaka, 29 April 2015: The coastal embankment of Bangladesh erodes every year and the government spend hugeamount of money for its maintenance. But if the landless people were allowed to live on the slope of the embankment they would happily maintain the embankment through making their livelihood on it.
This is how we could obstruct the tidal surge and salinity intrusion at almost free of cost. Today in a discussion on remembering 29 April Cyclone of 1991 at the National Press Club the speakers mention this.
21 coastal right based organizations called a discussion on remembering the devastating cyclone of 1991 that killed almost 140 thousand people titled “Remembering Cyclone 1991 and Save Coastal Land” today at the National Press Club. The organizations are CDP, COAST Trust, Dak DIye Jai, DOCAP, Dwip Unnayan Sangstha, Grameen Jana Unnayan Sangstha, Humanity Watch,ISDE, MMC, Nalsity Model Unnayan Society, PALS, PGUS, PRAN, Prantajan, Sangkalpa Trust, Sangram, SDS, SPEED Trust, Udayan Bangladesh and YPSA.
The key speakers of the discussion are Mr. A K M Jahangir Hossaio, Member of Parliament from the coastal area, Mr. Naim Gawhar Wara of Disaster Forum, Mr. Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust, Mr. Badrul Alam of Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Chowdhury Mohammad Masum of Sangram, Sed Aminul Huq of EquityBD, Hafez Kari Mawlana Abdul Khalek Sanobi, a survivor of 1991 Cyclone. Mustafa Kamal Akanda of COAST Trust moderates the discussion while Mr. Shawkat Ali Tutul of COAST Trust presents the keynote paper through powerpoint presentation.
Aminur Rasul Babul says, COAST implemented a pilot project on sustainable embankment management through rehabilitation of the landless people on it. The then government asked for a survey report from Water Development Board based on this successful project to implement all over the country. But that report was never published.
Naim Gawhar Wara of Disaster Forum says, isolated initiatives like embankment building or tree plantation is not enough to save the coastal land from huge erosion and salinity intrusion. It requires an integrated National Coastal Management Plan if we really mean the development. He adds, the cyclone shelters are not suitable for staying 48 hours or more with only 2 square feet of space for everyone. We need to introduce cyclone resilient houses in the coastal area. It requires resource.
Badrul Alam of BKF says, the rich and industrialised countries are solely responsible for the natural disasters in the southern countries. They have historical responsibility of colonial extraction and environment pollution. So, we need to be strong enough to negotiate the compensation in the climate conferences.
As the chief guest of the discussion Mr A K M Jahangir Hossain MP says in his speech, the canals inside the embankments are not taken care though those could be quite useful to drain the water out of the embankment. He adds, there are sluice gates that are being misused by the rich and local influential people and they are causing harm to the farmers by water logging or dryness.
Syed Aminul Huq of EquityBD says, Government should spend money for a permanent and appropriate embankment instead of spending lot of money every year in the name of repairing. Thus the coastal land could be safe and would stop the migration towards the cities.
Shawkat Ali Tutul depicts the sufferings of the people from tide and flood in Bhola and Cox’s Bazar during the last two years in his PowerPoint presentation and recommends for concrete embankments, as the soiled one is not strong enough to remain facing acute erosion and flood.