An unanticipated dry-season bank erosion by the Padma River is wreaking havoc with the inhabitants of two unions here, taking away over 100 bighas of arable land in the last two weeks and creating panic among them, especially the farmers.
The riverbank erosion has hit the two unions of Devgram and Doulatdia hard at a time when a cold wave is sweeping the country.
During a field visit by the UNB correspondent, it was found that arable land on a six-km stretch of the river bank from Natunpara on the west side of Doulatdia Ferryghat to Devgram was eroded by the mighty river.
Tomato, brinjal, chilli and mustard fields went into the gorge of the river due to the erosion. The erosion has turned acute especially in Devgram and Kawaljani areas.
Rustam Ali, 60, a farmer of Kawaljani village, said the river devoured at least 50 bighas of cropland at his village. “I planted tomato on 2 bighas of land spending Tk 18,000. However, half of my tomato field has already been lost to the riverbank erosion. I couldn’t imagine such an erosion in the dry season.”
Farmer Ansar Ali, 70, of Devgram village said he cultivated brinjal, tomato and chilli partly on his own and partly on leased land taking loan.
Most of his cropland was devoured by the river in the last 10-12 days, he said. “The way the river is eating up our crops, the burden of the loan will mount on us,” he said.
Zahid Hossain, a local, said several hundred families have lost what they had, including their homesteads, to the riverbank erosion earlier. “Many were trying to eke out an existence cultivating crops on their arable land. But the untimely riverbank erosion has devastated their lives.”
Sources at the upazila agriculture office said winter vegetables were cultivated on 1,418 hectares of land in the upazila.
Chairman of Devgram union parishad Hafizul Islam said although the erosion is taking place in many places of the upazila, it has turned serious in Kawaljani and Devgram.
He said they urged the district administration to take steps to prevent the riverbank erosion.
After visiting the areas, Assistant Commissioner (Land) M Abdullah Al-Mamun said the erosion in this dry season was beyond their imagination.
He said he will talk to the higher authorities and seek measures to deal with the situation.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Rubayet Hayat Shiplu said they have informed the district administration of the matter and stressed the need for taking effective steps to check the erosion.