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Tk 15-20cr need for a km to stop river erosion, minister says

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Staff Reporter
Water Resources Minister Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud on Wednesday said about Tk 15-20 crore will be needed to build a kilometer of coastal or river embankment to stop erosion with a view to protecting lives and property of local people.
“Construction of embankment is very costly. Building per meter of polders costs at least Tk 1.5 lakh,” he said at the inaugural session of a daylong conference at the city’s BRAC Centre Inn.
Chittagong University and Royal HaskoningDHV with support from the Netherlands Embassy in Dhaka jointly organised the international conference on ‘Ecological Engineering for Coastal Protection and Food Production in Bangladesh (ECOBAS)’.
Speaking as the chief guest, Anisul Islam Mahmud said Bangladesh is one of the biggest deltas with the estuary of three rivers systems -- Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna (GBM).
He said: “These three major rivers originated outside the country. So, when we go for water management, it’s a big challenge for us. It is very difficult to manage water problems in our country without cooperation of upper countries (China, India and Bhutan).”
The Water Resources Minister said that around 1.5 billion tonnes of silt run through these rivers each year accelerating river erosion. “When riverbank or coastal erosion takes place, local people become destitute.”
He said the coastal polders were built by the Water Development Board in the 70s (40 years ago), but there were no maintenance of many polders since these were built.
Considering the climate change impacts, Anisul Islam Mahmud said that redesigning the embankments can protect the country’s coastal lands, which are feared to go under seawater in the future due to sea-level rise caused by global warming.
“We’ve to redesign our polders… we’ve to increase the height of our polders to protect coastal land from seawater,” he added.
Prof Dr Tom Ysebaert of Netherlands said ecological engineering can provide ecosystem services like food, and natural redistribution of sand in the coastal region that will help stop coastal erosion.
Pro-Vice Chancellor of Chittagong University Prof Dr Iftekhar Uddin Chowdhury and director of Chittagong University’s Marine Science Institute Prof Dr Shahadat Hossain, among others, spoke on the occasion.