Although the flood situation in Gaibandha has improved and the water has started receding, there has been severe erosion in the Teesta and Brahmaputra. Anowar Hossain, a volunteer of Jalbayu Parishad, in English `Climate Council’, Gaibandha sent me a news article at the evening. It said, The erosion of Brahmaputra has taken a definite shape in Goghat area of Kamarjani Union in Gaibandha Sadar Upazila. People are moaning that house and homestead are disappearing in front of their eyes.
Already, the houses of hundreds of families have been washed away by the river. More than five hundred families are on the verge of river erosion. People in the affected areas are spending sleepless nights in panic. Many families who have become destitute after losing everything in the river are living in inhumane conditions by taking shelter in the local Union Health Center, Kalmu Government Primary School and Annamoyi Government Primary School.
Zakir Hossain, Chairman of Kamarjani Union Parishad said, the erosion of the Brahmaputra has started in Goghat area, the largest village in the union, since early July. But for 15 days this rupture has taken a definite shape. Already, the houses of 103 families, including the 250-year-old Durga temple and a 125-year-old draw-well have been swallowed in the Brahmaputra, have all been destroyed.
About 218 km long embankment was contracted from Kaunia to Sirajganj during 1973-1986 to divert the water of the Brahmaputra and Teesta River by utilizing flood control and non-flowing water to protect 159,000 hectares crop land.
The Brahmaputra flood control embankment is about six km from Gaibandha district town. The embankment extends north-south from Kaunia in Rangpur to Jumarbari in Saghata upazila of Gaibandha. About 96 km of the embankment is on the Gaibandha district. Of these, about 6 km of the embankment falls in Fulchhari upazila.
On 22 May 2029, the Chairmen of Union Councils of Gaibandha and Jalbayu Parishad (Climate Council) sent a memorandum to honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina together to take appropriate action for reducing vulnerability of people due to floods and river erosion.
In the memorandum they said, “due to climate change, about 548 sq km of Gaibandha Sadar, Sundarganj, Fulchhari and Saghata upazilas have been submerged in the river in the last 146 years due to erosion of Teesta and Jamuna rivers including Brahmaputra river. And in this long time, about 4 lakh people of these four upazilas have lost everything due to river erosion.
Gaibandha Sadar Upazila Kamarjani, Mollarchar, Ghagoa, Kholahati and Gidari Unions have the highest river erosion. Due to river erosion, floods occur every year in Mollarchar, Ghagoa, Badiakhali, Kholahati, Kamarjani and Gidari Unions.
As a result, thousands of hectares of land are lost in all the unions of Gaibandha Sadar Upazila every year. In addition, houses, livestock, roads and educational institutions were damaged. Due to the absence of any sluice gate, most of the floods occur in Kholahati Union.
In addition, due to the increase in temperature, the crop is damaged due to various diseases and drought.
To eradicate the effects of climate change, construction of sluice gates for drainage, piling to prevent erosion, river dredging and embankment repairing, digging of canals for drainage of beels, construction of groin to prevent river erosion and evacuation of displaced people in river erosion and housing for displaced people needs to be arranged and government should involve the local government institutions to implement these initiatives.“
CSRL and Jalbayu Parishad have organised `4th National Climate Hearing on Embankment’ at Dhaka on 2019 where Radha Rani from Goghat participated as a witness. The village is again in risk due to erosion of river.
Radha Rani (36). Husband Krishna Das, a fisherman. Living near of the Brahmaputra river. Fishing is their means of livelihood. She has two sons Lakshman, Phulbabu and two daughters Lakshmi and Swarasati in Gogat village No. 1 of Kamarjani union. They build huts on other people’s land. Krishnadas now works as a fisherman in someone else’s boat, Radharani also works in someone else’s land or house but it does not support the family of seven.
Radharani had her own house only two years ago. They had Cows in the barn, fulled rice in Gola (Store) and the machine-powered boat. Krishna Das used to go fishing in his own boat. Radha Rani used to weave nets and grow vegetables at home. They had low-income , but was going well.
Radha Rani got married at the age of 15 only. When Radha Rani got married twenty years ago, the river was 5/6 miles away from her house. Slowly the river began to erode and come closer. Then in the night of Shravan 2017, everything was washed away. The wind had been blowing since morning. The water was rising little by little but I couldn’t think that everything would be washed away. Because river erosion and floods are a matter of years for the people living by the river. Didn’t think much of it.
At night Radha Rani Krishna Das was sleeping in her room, in her own bed with her children. Suddenly I woke up to the rustling sound of river water. He left the house before he understood anything. Home latrines, faucets, boats, nets, machines, Radharani’s family. The fishing boat was floating. Krishna Das went to rescue it with another boat. Only one bed and a few tins were saved. In the pouring rain, he spent the night with the children on a polythene head, sitting on a bed on the water. Water and mosquitoes all around. There was nothing but clothes to wear.
Krishna Das returned around three o’clock that night. The kids didn’t even think about that boat, that boat also floated. His brother and he were also drowning in the whirlpool. Then another boat came and picked them up. Somehow back to life. All night, the next day the whole day was cut like this. Radha Rani’s sister’s son-in-law goes with food once. In the evening he took shelter in the member’s house. The Radha Rani’s now build huts in other people’s houses in the same village with the tin they managed to save. Radha Rani became destitute in just one night. Along with him, 75 more families of Goghat village No.1.
Krishna Das, like a madman who has lost a boat, does not want to work in another’s boat. The education of children has also stopped. It is not safe to have an older daughter in a hut. So at the age of 14 he married Lakshmi with great difficulty in the next village. Radha Rani said, “One day I had everything, river erosion took everything – I have nothing. Even if I had the boat, I could turn around again. Who do I ask to judge this suffering? Who am I to blame for my condition?
Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods – CSRL and Jalbayu Parishad (Climate Council) has been asking attention of the government to allocate budget for LGIs for repairing embankment repeatedly since 2017. If LGIs have budget, then they could utilize it in the emergency moment when it needed during erosion period. But they (LGIs) have not it, so suffering of Radha Rani are increasing. Can we hear it?