People living in the coastal areas of Khulna are panicking as Cyclone Amphan approaches the coast of Bangladesh from the Bay of Bengal. They still remember the devastation caused to these coastal areas when cyclones Sidr and Aila hit a few years ago. They fear that the upcoming cyclone Amphan will destroy the coastal embankment and cause severe flooding. This will further aggravate the problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The met office has forecast that mighty cyclone Amphan, which is presently over the Bay of Bengal, may make landfall after hitting coastal areas between Khulna and Chattogram – Dacope and Koyra upazila in Khulna. Amphan may cross the Bangladesh coast around midnight on Tuesday.
Dacope and Koyra upazilas, which are adjacent to the Sundarbans, are surrounded by rivers. The embankment there was renovated after cyclone Aila damaged it, though the renovation did not last long. During the rainy season, water flooded into the locality through some parts of the embankment. Tidewater enters the locality and causes water-logging even during summer.
According to the Bangladesh Water Development Board, only 12 kilometres of the 994-kilometre embankment is damaged, though local people say that more portions are at risk.
Imtiaz Uddin, the general secretary of the Koyra Development Coordination Committee, said 25 kilometres of the embankment is in a dilapidated condition due to lack of proper maintenance.
Koyra Sadar Union Parishad Chairman Humayun Kabir also said almost 30 kilometres in various unions in Koyra upazila are at high risk.
"Any natural disaster puts the people in the area in a panic, and around two lakh people in four unions are panicking now. They fear a tidal wave more than a cyclone," he said.
Ranjit Kumar, Tildanga union parishad chairman in Dacope upazila, said 400 metres of the embankment adjacent to Batbunia Bazar along the Dhaki river and 70 metres adjacent to Kaminibashia Gainbari are at high risk of damage in any natural disaster.
If those two spots are damaged, the dyke around polder number 31 will be broken and saltwater will flood Tildanga and Pankhali union, and a large area of Chalna municipality, which will damage crops and affect more than two lakh people, he added.
Khulna deputy commissioner Mohammad Helal Hossain says the district administration has taken all-out measures to counter cyclone Amphan.