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122 closures of 37 vulnerable haors reinforced in Sunamganj

This year, the water receded a month later than usual due to climate change, delaying work on the crop-protecting dam

122 of 127 critically vulnerable closures of 37 haors under the Water Development Board in Sunamganj have been reinforced with soil.

Five other closures remain vulnerable due to a lack of available soil nearby.

Reinforcement work is under way at the 122 closures using packed soil, bamboos and sandbags. Local farmers say that if the closures are not protected, the 1,500 kilometre under-construction beribadh might fail.

This year, the water receded a month later than usual due to climate change. As a result, work on the crop-protecting dam was greatly delayed. People associated with the project said that a lack of manpower and heavy excavators also contributed to the delay.

Abdul Jalil, a resident of Zarakona village of Dharmapasha upazila said: “More soil has been put into the reinforcement of the closures this year than in any other. However, the beribadh will have no work done on it until work on the closures is completed. When water in the river increases, the pressure at the closures increases accordingly, making closures the most vulnerable spots in a haor.”

Locals say every year thousands of volunteers dig up soil in order to reinforce the closures to protect crops. This soil is compacted and further bolstered with bamboos and sandbags to create a failsafe.

Zaheer Miya, a farmer from the village of Bhimkhali Nowagao of Jamalganj upazila said: “Because of the delay of the water recession, the growth of paddy will be delayed.”

Sources at Sunamganj Water Development Board said 52 beribadhs were being constructed in order to protect crops, with 964 PICs being formed to manage the projects.

Each PIC is limited to spending 25 lakhs on the project, with a total of 122 crores having been allotted to the entire endeavour. This breaks all previous records of expenditure on the project, effectively almost doubling last year’s 68 crores.

Executive Engineer Md Abu Bakkar Siddique said: “Due to a delay in measuring the water levels resulting from climate change, work on the closures began late. However, farmers need not worry as work will be completed soon.”

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