Huge tidal surges coupled with upstream water have left an entire union in Cox’s Bazar almost submerged, sparking fear that the area might disappear under water soon.
Swollen seawater, following days of heavy rain has breached the flood protection dyke at Khurushkul, a union located on the edge of the Bay of Bengal, and inundated nearly 90% area of the coastal union.
The embankment, suffering extensive damage and now is living in close proximity to the seacoast without any protection, has created panic among the 50,000 residents of the area.
Some three kilometres of coastal embankment between Choufoldondi Bridge and the estuary of the river Bankkhali, two-kilometre embankment on the eastern side of Choufoldondi canal and the embankment on the western side of Khurushkul union have already been destroyed, bowing to the pressure of surging sea waves.
The whole union is likely to go under water unless the government steps in and repairs the dyke in the upcoming dry season, residents said.
Meanwhile, seawater intrusion has led to the increased salinity level in the soil of many villages of the union, including Kuliapara, Majherpara, Deilpara, Rakhainepara and Mamunpara and affected agricultural production to a large extent.
Of the villages, Rakhainepara is being considered as the most vulnerable as it could be claimed by the sea anytime in the future. Located just 20 metres away from the collapsed dyke, the village is home to about 10,000 Rakhaines.
“Our village is closest to the sea and so, we are facing the gravest danger. We depend on the sea to make a living. Ironically, it is the same sea that has threatened us of taking away our lives and livelihood,” a monk at a Buddhist pagoda Ushashon Bongsho Mohathero said.
The monk said locals have applied to several government departments for repairing the damaged dyke, but in vain.
In addition, the local shrimp industry has also faced huge financial losses in the aftermath of the embankment collapse.
About 10,000 acres of shrimp farming lands were inundated in the union, incurring heavy losses to the marginal shrimp farmers.
“For the first time in my life, I have suffered such massive loss. Even though shrimp farming is an export-oriented sector, we were given no government facilities to make up for our loss,” local shrimp farmer Md Gias Uddin said.
Khurushkul union Chairman Master Abdur Rahim said the authorities have been informed of the situation already, but they prefer not to deal with the problem citing shortage of funds.
Deputy Commissioner of Cox’s Bazar Md Ruhul Amin said they had briefed the concerned ministry about the damage.