Dhaka, August 19. The recent worrisome situation of river erosion and high tide water intrusion directly hit around half a million people, cause loss of land of around 3 square kilometer in Bhola island. The worrisome situation will continue until the end of this monsoon. The cumulative land loss in the last 50 years is 3000 square kilometer i.e., almost 50% of the island.
Today five NGOs from Bhola district namely COAST, DUS, FDA, GJUS and PSS in a press conference titled “Protecting Bhola should be the most Priority in Climate Adaptation Plan: Only Tk. 60 billions is needed to protect Bhola island” raise the issue. On behalf of the group Shawkat Ali Tutul of COAST describes the entire situation in his written statement in the press conference. Mohammed Unus of DUS moderates the press conference where other speakers are Md. Usuf of GJUS, Kamal Uddin of FDA, Faruk Hossain of PSS, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury and Mostafa Kamal Akhanda of COAST.
Shawkat Ali Tutul says while reading out the written statement of the press conference, the recent disaster in Bhola ruins 105 km of paved roads of LGED, 1,500 fish farms and 13,000 hectors of crop field. Half a million people have been water-logged.
The group propose a five points demand in this regard: (i) In view of informal assessment with the help of Water Development Board (WDB) officials it is required only Tk. 60 billions to protect the island permanently, (ii) WDB might reduce 20% cost if they are able to avoid political interferences and making the tender process transparent, competitive and fair, (iii) Deploying Army Engineering units simultaneously with the WDB efforts especially in emergency and critical work, it might save time and cost too, (iv) WDB might consider process of public participation from planning to implementation stages of the project; they should prepare information disclosure and complain response mechanism in the grass root, (iv) Embankment Maintenance should be handed over to the local government and NGOs that may reduce the cost; COAST has experience of implementing a pilot project in this regard and it has proved that the maintenance works requires only taka 17 thousands per year per kilometer while government spends taka 56 thousands per year and per kilometer.
The group also demands for some sort of accountability relationship between the WDB local officials and the local Upazila Parishad and Zila Parishad in this regard.
Md. Unus of DUS praise journalists’ role of raising the issue of this year’s catastrophes in the national media.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST mentions that protecting Bhola should be the number one priority in respect of country’s climate adaptation action plan.
Kamal Uddin of FDA says that, the mobilization for protecting Bhola will be continued in deepening the study taking further participation.
Please Download [Bangla Press] [English Press] [Position Paper]