Food, pure water scarcity in northeastern, northern Bangladesh; flood situation worsen

11

Desk report, June 19: The flood situation is continuing to worsen in the northeastern and northern regions of the country as the water levels of all major rivers are gradually rising.

The flood victims have been suffering from pure drinking water. Besides, people are also facing shortage of food in flood hit areas.

“As all major rivers of the country are in a rising trend, flood situation may deteriorate further in northeastern, northern regions in next few days,” a Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) spokesman Md Arifuzzaman Bhuyan told BSS.

“Water now continued to surpass much above the danger lines in two of the country’s four major river basins . . . the situation is worst since the 2004 flooding,” a Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre (FFWC) spokesman Md Arifuzzaman Bhuyan said.

Bhuiyan, an FFWC executive engineer, said “heavy downpours worsened the flood situation which is gradually deteriorating in northern and north-eastern parts of Bangladesh”.

He said the trend was worsening as the forecasts suggested the heavy rainfall to continue for the next couple of days both in the upstream Meghalaya Assam and western Himalayan regions of India alongside Bangladesh.

Monsoon rains and gushing waters from upstream India overnight worsened Bangladesh’s flood situation with experts calling it the worst since 2004 while officials estimated the flooding to have marooned at least 6 million people.

Officials and reports suggest nearly six million people were marooned in their nearly inundated homes or were forced to take makeshift refuge elsewhere as the water levels in rivers in northeastern and northern regions continued to rise.

Many people were forced to initially take refuge on their rooftops amid gushing rising waters until rescue boats arrived at many places in Sunamganj.

The incessant downpours aggravated affected people’s miseries while the deluge by now severed entirely the road links of northeastern Sunamganj district from the rest of the country and forced authorities to shutdown the Osmani International Airport in neighbouring Sylhet after water submerged its runway.

Flood waters engulfed several power stations forcing authorities to shut down the facilities, subsequently affecting internet and mobile phone communications as well and due to the shutdowns the entire Sunamganj district remained beyond power supplies for the last two days.

The reports said the power outage forced people to depend on candles and kerosene-lit lamps a situation that soared up their prices at many places.

Bangladesh authorities earlier called out army troops in aid of civil administration in evacuating people or reaching succours to marooned people while navy and air force units subsequently were called out particularly in northeastern Sylhet region as it now appeared as a sea.

According to district administration officials, a 35-member naval team began rescue operations with one Coast Guard cruise and two Air Force helicopters this afternoon.

“A 60-member navy contingent and two more cruises are expected to join the rescue operations in Sylhet and Sunamganj,” deputy commissioner of Sylhet district Md Mojibor Rahman said.

Reports said all the upazilas and half of Sylhet city, and all upazilas and municipalities of Sunamganj district, the Sylhet-Sunamganj highway and the Sylhet-Bholaganj Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman highway are already submerged.

In Jamalpur, the overall flood situation further deteriorated in the district as water of the mighty river Jamuna continued to rise in the district today.

Water Development Board sources said during the last 24 hours water level in the river Jamuna rose by 13 cm and was flowing 28 cm above the red mark at Bahadurabad ghat point till 3 pm.

Deputy Director (In-charge), Department of Agriculture Extension Zakia Sultana said due to rise of flood water more standing crops were submerged in the area. Flood water submerged T-Aman seed bed on 25 hectares, Aush on 215 hectares, jute on 1326 hectares, vegetable on 122 hectares and green chilly on 30 hectares of land.

Deputy Commissioner, Shrabosti Roy said Upazila administration is closely monitoring the situation.

Deltaic Bangladesh is crisscrossed by 56 major rivers and several hundred tributaries with hydrologists dividing the country in four major basins, with current flooding first exposed to its wraths the northwestern region covered under the Meghna Basin.

“The situation in Brahmaputra Basin aggravated overnight” as the waters surpassed the danger marks at many places in northern and some northwestern districts,” an FFWC official said.

The disaster management ministry officials said the flood-hit 17 of the country’s 64 administrative districts under the purview of the two basins.

BSS correspondents reported nearly 90 percent of homes in Sunamganj is now under water while in Sylhet the figure is estimated to be 80.

Bangladesh saw four major prolonged deluges since 1987 with the last one being in 2004.

Experts, however, said unlike their previous major floods since 1987, the water level in all four basins might not surpass their danger levels simultaneously.

“So far there is no indication that the four basins will see the simultaneous rise of waters,” Bangladesh’s leading water expert Professor Ainun Nishat told BSS.

But, he said, the flood this time caused by heavy continued rains in upstream in India “which appears a bit extreme”.

The FFWC suggests all major rivers of the country are on a rising trend.

“According to the numerical weather forecast of meteorological agencies, there is chance of medium to heavy rainfall (somewhere very heavy) at places of the northern and north-eastern regions of the country along with adjoining states of Assam, Meghalaya and Sub-Himalayan West Bengal of India in next 48 hours,” the FFWC statement added.

The flood situation in Sylhet, Sunamganj and Netrokona districts may deteriorate in the next 24 hours, it said adding in the next 24 hours, the flood condition may deteriorate in the low-lying areas of Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Rangpur, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Bogra, Jamalpur, Sirajganj districts.

In the next 24 hours the low-lying areas of Tangail, Munshiganj and Shariatpur districts may become flooded, the centre added.