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Flood situation

Experts blame climate change, unplanned constructions

25 June 2022


Gulam Rabbani :
At least 70 people have been officially reported dead so far in the 12 flood-hit districts of the country, including the Sylhet region. The floods took a terrible turn in Sylhet and Sunamganj within a month.
Experts are blaming climate change and unplanned constructions for the catastrophic floods in the northern districts of the country, including Sylhet and Sunamganj.
They say the recent rainfalls, due to the effects of climate change, have broken more than a hundred-year record, one of the major reasons for the ongoing floods in Bangladesh and Meghalaya border in India. Just two days after recording 811.6 mm of rainfall in a day, Cherrapunji in Meghalaya received a bountiful 972 mm of precipitation in 24 hours ending 8.30 am on June 17, the highest in June since 1995 and the third highest in 122 years, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
One of the wettest places in the world, Cherrapunji has recorded more than 800 mm of precipitation on a June day on nine occasions since the IMD started keeping records in 1901, the IMD data showed.  This type of rainfall is unusual and one of the major reasons behind this rainfall is climate change, said Professor Dr A K M Saiful Islam from the Institute of Water and Flood Management (IWFM) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET). "Climate change has an adverse effect around the world. The sudden increase in rainfall is seen to have connection with the global warming. Not just rainfall, but also storms, tidal surges, droughts, etc. have increased due to global warming. It can be said that the natural disasters will increase day by day with the increasing ratio of warming," he added.
Dr Md Khalequzzaman, a Professor at Lock Haven University in the United States, and also Global Coordinator of Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), identified three reasons for recent devastating flood in Bangladesh.
He said, "Heavy rainfall across the world due to global warming, water flow controlled by India at the upper stream of our joint rivers and unplanned constructions in Haor regions and river basins are causing recent devastating floods in Bangladesh. We should take steps so that the floods cannot turn into a devastating shape."
Professor Dr Shafi Mohammad Tareq from the Department of Environmental Sciences of Jahangirnagar University, said, "There was such rainfall happened even 122 years ago. But then we didn't hear words like 'climate change'. Basically the water coming from the upstream is not able to go downstream properly. This is because the environmental impact assessment has not been carried out properly in establishing dams and other constructions in the floodlighted areas in the country."
"Many unplanned roads and dams have been constructed in Haor regions of  Sylhet and other districts. Although those have been constructed for the betterment of the common people, it can be said that the environmental impact assessment was not carried out properly during those constructions."
"Moreover, siltation due to construction of dams in Indian side has decreased the navigability of many rivers in our country. As a result, when there is heavy rainfall during the monsoon season, the rivers overflow, which outcome is this flood. It is recognized and happens every year. However, this time the level of overflow was much higher," added Professor Shafi.
At least 12 north-eastern and northern districts in Bangladesh are currently experiencing a devastating flood, with major rivers such as the Brahmaputra, Jamuna, Surma, and the Kushiyara flowing above their danger marks at 18 points.
Floodwaters inundated fresh areas in Jamalpur, Sherpur, Habiganj, Kishoreganj, Moulvibazar, Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha, Bogura, Sirajganj, Tangail, Rajbari and Feni following heavy rainfall and rise in water level in different rivers.
About 6.0 million people are now stranded in these districts, and suffering from shortage of food, sanitation and water.

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