A Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 (BDP) mission team led by Professor Dr. Shamsul Alam, Senior Secretary to the Government of Bangladesh and Member of the General Economics Division (GED), Planning Commission and comprising of GED officials and BDP consultants went on a fact-finding mission to Sylhet in early May 2015. During the visit, the team visited the Monu River Project, Hakaluki Haor, the Joal Bhanga Haor Sluice Gate, Korchar Haor Dam and the Langlia River Rubber Dam, amongst other sites in Sylhet. You can read about the visits in the last article on the Sylhet visit on the BDP website. In addition to these visits, the team also met key local stakeholders in Sylhet in two consultation sessions. It is important for the project team to discuss issues with people on the ground and apprise them about the formulation process of the Bangladesh Delta Plan, a long term (50-100 year) plan to manage the Bangladesh delta in a way that optimizes levels of water safety and food security, as well as sustained economic growth. The two stakeholder consultation sessions were held with the Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and the Sunamganj DC Office.
Consultation with the Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and Industries
Prof. Dr. Shamsul Alam, Secretary and Senior Member, GED, delivered the opening remarks followed by Salah Uddin Ali Ahmed the President of Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) who introduced the participants and inaugurated the formal discussions. The discussions ranged from haor management to modern agricultural systems, also touching upon credit and financing mechanisms. The need to expand social safety nets for marginalized people in the Sylhet region was stressed, as was the need to increase income-generating activities. The current fishing system still follows a ‘might-is-right’ structure which needs to be changed in order to ensure equal access to fishing. There are concerns regarding siltation in the beels: the Surma River’s depth is only 2 to 3 feet in places and thus even some residential areas are flooded. Therefore, river dredging is critical. Water availability in the dry season is another major concern. The participants also elaborated on trans-boundary water issues with India (Shivchar). According to most participants, public health and sanitation is a major issue in Sylhet since the district has the highest number of open latrines. Water supply for the cities, sanitation, water front development (river bank development) and urban service delivery should be major focus areas of interest. In addition to the BDP mission team, the discussion was also attended by Professor Dr. Md. Zakir Hossain of Shahjalal University of Science & Technology (SUST), Dr. Jasim Uddin Ahmed of North East University Bangladesh (NEUB), Md. Gulan Akter Faruk, Acting Secretary of SCCI, and a number of SCCI Directors.
Consultation with the Sunamganj District Commissioner’s (DC) Office
In the consultation, the BDP mission team was joined by officials of the Sunamganj DC office and the Sylhet/Sunamganj representatives of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC), Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), Roads and Highways Department, Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), Fisheries and Livestock Department, and DAE. The meeting was chaired by Prof. Dr. Shamsul Alam. The participants discussed land and water resource management, which includes fishing, farming and agriculture. The participants said that the ground water level has dropped to 1000m below the normal level. There is a concern over fallow land: about 60,000 ha of land is fallow in the region. The land owners are absent (usually settled abroad) and thus their land remains fallow. There is a conflict between duck farming and fish culture since more ponds are being leased for fish culture, reducing the space available for duck farming; while indiscriminate use of pesticides are causing harm to fish breeding. Similar to the consultation at the SCCI, the participants here expressed their concern over river sedimentation and public health. Open defecation is a common habit in the area and thus sanitation conditions are poor. Seasonal unemployment exists in the area and thus alternative income generating activities could be introduced.
The BDP Mission Team comprised of Professor Dr. Shamsul Alam (Senior Secretary and Senior Member, GED, Planning Commission), Mafidul Islam (Joint Chief, GED and Project Director, BDP 2100), Taibur Rahman (GED Planning Commission and Assistant Project Director, BDP 2100) and Murtuza Zulkar Nain Noman (GED Planning Commission and Assistant Project Director, BDP 2100). Professor Dr. Jaap de Heer (Team Leader, BDP 2100), Giasuddin Choudhury (Deputy Team Leader, BDP 2100) and Shaker Bin Shams (Assistant Deputy Team Leader, BDP 2100) accompanied the team as well.Leave a reply →