Scrap WDB Monopoly on Embankment: Construction and Maintenance Must Be a Mass / Public Initiatives

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indexCox’s Bazar 26th August 2014: Today in a press conference held at the Cox’s Bazar Press Club, COAST Trust a Coastal based organization urged government to consider short and long term relief and rehabilitation measures for effected coastal poor who have been affected by recent unusual tidal flood. They also urged scraping the monopoly of Water Development Board (WDB) over embankment construction and maintenance. They also said WDB must be decentralized and locally accountable to the people as well as the embankment construction and maintenance should be public participatory entrepreneurship consisting govt., non govt., academic and professional associations.

Fazlul Qader Chowdhury, Executive Editor of Dainink Bakkhali, Cox’s Bazar moderated the press conference while Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Directore spoke as main speaker in the press Conference.

Other speakers were also spoke Md Nurul Islam, Cox’s Bazar representative of New Age, Engineer Ziauddin, President of Citizen Forum of Matarbari Union, Moheshkhali; Engineer Badiul Alam; Ex-chairman & Social Worker Ruhul Qader Babul; Shambunath Chakroborty, President of Cox’s Bazar District Jobo Union; Md Nizamuddin, journalist of local newspaper etc.

The organizer of the press conference was COAST Trust.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director of COAST Trust while spoke elaborated the details of recent tidal flood impact in low lying coastal areas and islands. He urged the steps to be urgently taken are: (i) to provide shelters to the homeless families, (ii) food supply until next March as they have lost the Aman crops, (iii) especial assistance to initiate upcoming robi crops and (iv) doubling the different Safety Net programs for the affected and marginalized especially for the fishermen families, women and child headed households.

Speakers urged for the reform of WDB who is responsible for embankment and nowadays widely considered as the most corrupted government body. They have also pointed out some steps to be taken in this regard are: (i) WDB should be accountable to the Upazila Parishad and Deputy Commissioner, (ii) inclusion of local government and poor people’s groups, as of NGO’s, in the construction work instead of doing it in traditional method by the contractors; (iii) engaging Army in critical places, as they were engaged in constructing the Marine Drive to protect Cox’s Bazar; and (iv) considering concrete block and sea-dike building as permanent protection of the coastal land.

Rezaul Karim Chowdhury said that, if no permanent measures are taken to protect the coastal land and small businesses, the climate-induced migration towards the cities will be increased which will be more problematic. He urged the Member of Parliament and Upazila Chairman to be more active to pursue government in this regard.

He emphasized in the press conference that local administration to take precautionary measures for another possible tidal flood during September 8 to 9. He said, West Bengal govt. already announces such measures.

Moqbul Ahmed, Team Leader, Cox’s Bazar Region of COAST trust was coordinated the whole press conference.
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