Dam construction in haor areas in the northern part of Bangladesh is yet again delayed this year. Even though Water Development Board claimed the work will be completed within the stipulated time, locals alleged that it, like last year, might not be this year too. This is absolutely disappointing, especially because the deadline for haor dam construction is 28 February, and any negligence of the authorities might bring yet another disaster to the fate of the haor people.
When crops were largely damaged in haor areas by flash floods and storms in April 2017, allegations of massive irregularities and corruption during the construction of crop protection dams were brought against the authorities. As a result, a set of fresh rules, cancelling the previous contractual system, were made for new embankments. According to the revised Kajer Binimoye Taka (Kabita) Policy of 2017 of Water Development Board (WDB), all works related to the embankments must start by December 15 and have to be finished by February 28 every year. Although the administration is hopeful of finishing the reconstruction on time, farmers and rights activists are worried about the quality of the work.
One has to remember that delay in dam construction may again hit the growing of crops badly. Obviously, this does not mean that the work should be completed in haste, because a weak dam can break at any time and floodwater can pour in and damage the crops. We would expect the responsible authorities immediately go for measures of their own. Alongside construction, quality of the dams must be ensured, that they must have capacity to prevent water entry into the areas. The victims alleged that dams are made by filling soil alone but the other technical works are not done to make those dams sustainable. Therefore, Project Implementation Committees (PIC) to construct the dams should be formed after public hearing, and also prompt construction of haor protection embankments and stopping the construction of unnecessary embankments should also be ensured. Above all, a proper monitoring of the entire work, therefore, is urgently needed. Any damage to haor crop production is unexpected.