The north-western part of Bangladesh is a drought prone area suffering from lowering of the ground water table as well as siltation of the major rivers. Between 10 and 13 June 2015, a BDP mission team led by the team leader, Prof. Dr. Jaap de Heer, and the deputy team leader, Giasuddin Ahmed Choudhury met stakeholders and scoped for possible projects which can be considered by the Delta Plan. Following a delta atelier session on the same hotspot, the team carried out the field visit to look for sites where possible water reservoirs can be installed as well as to consider proposed projects for inclusion in the Delta Plan. The mission comprised of site visits to Sirajganj Hard Point, North Rajshahi Irrigation Project and Sona Mashjid Land Port with India as well as stakeholder meetings at Chalan Beel and Teesta Barrage Project.
The two and half km long “Sirajganj Hard-Point‟ was built by Hyundai Corporation, a South Korean company between 1995 and 1999 at the cost of Tk. 331.36 core to protect Sirajganj town and adjacent areas from river bank erosion soon after construction of the Jamuna Bridge. There was no threat of erosion for ten years since its construction, until a part of the construction was damaged twice in 2009 and in 2010. A 175 meter long protection works of the hard point was again damaged during 18-21 July 2011. Consultations at the Sirajganj Hard-Point revealed that many people have lost their homestead and agricultural land due to river erosion before construction of the hard-point. Sirajganj town is now protected after construction of the embankment but the structure needs regular monitoring and maintenance. Morphological changes of the Jamuna River at the Sirajganj hard point is significant and requires strengthening of the structure at full length.
Stakeholder meeting: Chalan Beel Development
Chalan Beel used to comprise three-fourth parts of Natore District and Raninagar and Atrai upazilas of Naogaon District, Sirajganj Sadar, Ullapara, Tarash upazilas of Sirajganj District and Faridpur, Bera upazilas of Pabna District and some part of Bogra District. But due to siltation, the location has shifted/deteriorated from its original location. At present the Chalan Beel area is approximately 375 sq. km. in wet season and during dry seasons it is reduced to 52-78 sq. km. The Chalan beel incorporates 21 rivers, 93 small beels and their floodplains, 12 817 ponds and 214 borrow pits. There are 21 rivers streaming into the Chalan beel, covering a total area of about 709 ha and 3300 ha during the dry and monsoon seasons respectively, such as Atri, Gumani, Baral, Gohala and Korotoa etc. Chalan Beel is the largest beel of Bangladesh. It has a lot of significance in various aspects for the livelihood of the people of North Western region. It contains a very rich biodiversity including exotic species (IUCN). A significant number of water bodies are being fed by the beel. It is a great source of irrigation and thus plays an important role in agriculture. It not only plays a dominant role in the socio-economic condition of the North-Western region but also has a great significance on the environment.
Local stakeholder consultations at Chalan Beel revealed that domestic fish species are reducing due to lack of water and use of pesticide in crop production. About type of 70 fish species (e.g. Bacha, Sorputi,Shilon, Ar, Gojar, Chitol, Bheda, Pabda, Khorshola, Bashpata,Batashi, etc.) are declining due to construction of unplanned structures (i.e. culverts, inlet, outlet, sluice gates and roads, etc.) in Chalan beel. Ground water level is declining due to lake of surface water. The numbers of domestic and migratory birds in Chalan beel is in decline due to lack of water and environmental pollution. Gradual habitat degradation and overexploitation are key drivers of biodiversity degradation and declining aquatic production in Chalan beel. Siltation, construction of flood control structures, use of pesticide, insecticides and chemical fertilizers, water pollution and lower surface water availability causes degradation of habitat.
Discussions at the North Rajshahi Irrigation Project was fairly extensive. A large volume of irrigation water has been withdrawn from the aquifer underneath this region. As a consequence the water table has continuously declined, especially in dry season. Under the project, crop lands of Godagari, Tanore, Niamatpur, Manda, Porsha, Tanore and Nachole will be irrigated by installing several pumps beside the Padma and the Mahananda. The project will increase the cropping intensity, decrease the use of underground water and enhance soil fertility thus increase crop production. Increasing siltation is a main problem in the Padma River and farmers cannot use water for irrigation in dry season in affected project area due to lack of surface and ground water. In rainy season, this area is inundated easily due to siltation of main river channels. Siltation, which increases from months of Chatra to Boishakh, started after construction of embankment in 2007. Many people, mainly fishermen, have lost their livelihood due to climate change (drought) in affected project area. To overcome the aftermath of such groundwater over drafting, as an alternative, irrigation from the river water can be considered as savior to halt further deterioration of ground water reserves of the area.
Sona Masjid Land Port
Sona Masjid land port is situated in Shibganj upazila of Chapai Nawabganj district in 18 acres of acquired land. It is about 200 meters away from the Bangladesh-Indian border, 20 km from the Shibganj upazila headquarters and 37 km away from district headquarters. Currently, the port handles trade with the Indian state of Bihar and part of West Bengal. Boulder stones, cattle feed, fresh fruits and dry fish are the principal imported items of this port. On the other hand betel nut, zinc, brass scrap, copper, tin and copper tubes are mainly exported through this port. Around 30 thousand passengers pass through this port between Bangladesh and India annually.
Teesta Barrage Project
The Teesta Barrage project is bound by the Teesta on the North, the Atrai on the West, Shantahar-Bogra Railway line on the South and Bogra-Kaunia Railway line on the East. Although the implementation of the project started in 1960, the actual construction of the Barrage was taken up in 1979 and that of canal system in 1984-85. To derive early benefits, the Project has been phased out viz. Phase-1 and Phase-11. The Phase-1 (restructured) has a command area of 154,250 hectares with a net irrigable area of 111,406 hectares. It is spreaded over 12 (twelve) Upaziila namely: Nilphamari, Dimla, Jaldhaka, Kishoreganj, Saidpur, Rangpur, Taraganj, Badarganj, Gangachara, Parbatipur, Chirir-bandar & Khanshama. It comprises construction of a Barrage, Flood Embankment, Flood By Pass, Silt Trap, Main Canal and part of canal system with improvement of existing drainage canal. On both sides of the 649 km irrigation canals, there are 1298 km dykes serving as all-weather village roads which has improved communication of the remote areas. Nearly 150 km of main and secondary canals, 600 km of major drainage channels and silt trap reservoir have created a watershed of about 50 sq km which provide ample opportunities for pisciculture and duck farming.
The BDP mission team was accompanied by Leo Beumer (Consultant, BDP 2100), Md. Atiqur Rahman (Consultant, BDP 2100), Minhazur Rahman Shimul (Consultant, BDP 2100), Shaheen Reza (Office Manager, BDP 2100) and Shaker Bin Shams (Assistant Deputy Team Leader, BDP 2100). Md. Atiqur Rahman and Minhazur Rahman Shimul conducted the Delta Atelier (Rajshahi and Rangpur) sessions in the prior week and developed professional networks within northern Bangladesh.Leave a reply →