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Shanir Haor over-flooded

Embankment breaches at three points; Boro crop on 150,000 hectares washed away: Growers effort to protect dam fails: Loss Tk 1285 crore: Corruption by WDB officials alleged

By Special Correspondent
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Shanir Haor, which is known as the grain bowl of Sunamganj district, has been over-flooded due to onrush of upstream hill waters through the collapsed embankment causing huge damage to standing crops on 10,000 hectares of land and other aquatic animals.

With the collapse of Shanir Haor dam, all the 22 haors under Sunamganj district along with the cultivated crops, except Panga Haor, have gone under deep water following the series of cracks in the embankment, officials said on Sunday.

At present, the flash floods have inundated crops in most of the haors in Sunamganj, Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Moulvibazar, Sylhet, Habiganj, Moulvibazar and Brahmanbaria districts which has appeared as a nightmare to lakhs of people.

Deputy Commissioner of Sunamganj district Sheikh Rafiqul Islam told The New Nation last night that out of 2,23,082 hectares of land [of Sunamganj], the paddy of 1,49, 912 hectares has been washed away due to the flash flood. The loss is equivalent to Tk 1,285 crore.

 "The residents of 50 villages under Tahirpur, Jamalganj, and Biswamvarpur upazilas franticly tried to save the dam taking several protective measures for the last few days. But their efforts went in vain due to excessive rain for the last three days," the DC said.

Local people and district administration have directly blamed the widespread corruption of Water Development Board engineers in constructing the dams.

"Apart from corruption, the WDB officials also made delay to start construction work of the dams," the DC added.

Officials of Sunamganj district administration said that Anti Corruption Commission is now   conducting investigation into the alleged financial irregularities of WDB officials.

Besides, the Water Resources Ministry, Water Development Board and Sunamganj district administration have formed three separate inquiry committees to find out the anomaly in constructing the dams.

An official of ACC requesting anonymity said in the last two years the WDB had sought bids for 28 embankments in 116 packages for Sunamganj. On the other hand, he said, the engineers and contractors have embezzled Tk 25 crore without doing anything.

The scenario is almost same in other districts where the dams are under threat due to poor construction work.
Local people claimed that water from the haor is now entering the nearby villages in Tahirpur upazila through three massively damaged points of the embankment - Lalur Goala, Ahammak Khali and Radhapur.

 "The local people tried to keep the dam intact for the last 20 days as heavy rains and flash floods continued. But water started entering from early Sunday after the dam was collapsed at three locations. The Boro crop, which would have been harvested in a few weeks' time, has gone under water," Upazila Chairman Md Kamruzzaman said.

Echoing the same, Chairman of Tahirpur Sadar Union Md Borhanuddin said around 5,000 workers were trying to repair the dam that was built by bamboo and sand-filled sacks for the last few days. 

Local sources said, about 50-feet portion of the Lalaurgoala dam was collapsed adjacent to Rajdharpur village under Sreepur union of Tahirpur upazila at about 2:30am on Saturday.
Another portion in front of Ramjibonpur village was damaged after some time. The water of Bolai River entered the haor through the broken portions of the dam damaging crops of 50,000 farmers of adjacent 50 villages.

Our Sunamganj Correspondent adds, that UP Chairman of Fenarbagh Karunasindhu Talukdar and UP Secretary Ajit Kumar Roy with the cooperation of local villagers were trying to save about seven-kilometer long dam adjacent to Urarbandh, Patilchura, Dhailla, Godaraghat of Sajanpur and Kebol Majhir Khola villages.

Now, the villagers are trying to save the crops of 12,000 hectares of land of Pagna Haor under Fenarbagh union of Jamalganj upazila.

Upazila Agricultural Officer Abdus Salam said: "The farmers of Tahirpur upazila cultivated around 6500 hectares of land at Shanir Haor for producing Baro paddy. The rest of the land was cultivated by the people of Jamalpur and Biswamvar upazilas."

He also claimed that the paddy of 15,000 hectares land under Tahirpur upazila has already gone under water. The local farmers, however, have claimed that the quantity of damaged paddy under water is far bigger than the estimate given by the agricultural department.  

Deputy Director of Sunamganj Agricultural Extension Department Md Zahedul Haque said if the farmers would get ten days more time, they could save the paddy in the Shanir Haor.

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