The use of geotextile bags on an experimental basis to protect the dam surrounding the haor areas of Sunamganj from flood water has brought about positive results exceeding expectations, benefitting thousands of marginalised people in the region.
Abu Bokkor Siddiki, chief engineer of Sunamganj Water Development Board revealed the information to Bangladesh Post on Wednesday.
“We now want to use it for more benefits,” he added.
Geotextile is a permeable fabric used to increase soil stability, provide erosion control and aid in drainage. In relation to soil it has the ability to separate, filter, reinforce, protect or drain. The fabrics come in three basic forms: woven, needle punched or heat bonded.
Siddiki said, “Earlier, only earth and bamboo was used in dam protection and reconstruction efforts, but it was not working in a permanent way. Every year, the same dam got damaged by flash floods and every year soil and bamboo was used for reparation only to get washed away during the next flood.”
“After getting better than expected results using geotextile bags on experimental basis, we have urged higher ups for large-scale use of geo bags for permanent protection of dams. It will save a significant amount of public fund,” said the district WDB chief.
Sources said in Sunamganj alone, geotextile bags were used at around 100 vulnerable points of the dam last year on experimental basis. Almost in all the cases, the effort proved effective.
According to WDB sources, 1400 square kilometers of arable lands are protected by the dam.
In 2017, against a demand of Tk 55 crore for dam protection work in Sunamganj, Tk 28.88 crore was approved, clearing the way for the largest project ever obtained for protection of Sunamganj haor dam.
Earlier the same year, some 3.41 lac farmers were affected in four districts of Sylhet division as over 1.13 lac hectares of Boro paddy fields in haors of Sunamganj, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Habiganj were submerged following upstream flash floods caused by heavy rainfall. As a result, the haor dam also collapsed.
Of the affected farmers, 171,870 were from Sunamganj while 103,104 from Sylhet, 30,828 from Moulvibazar and 35,211 were affected in Habiganj, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) in Sylhet.
The DAE said some 113,672 lac hectares of haor croplands in the four districts were inundated.
Of them, some 57,289 hectares of Boro paddy were damaged in Sunamganj while 34,379 hectares in Sylhet, 10,277 hectares in Moulvibazar and 11,737 hectares in Habiganj.
So far around 119.75 tonnes of fish and 5,000 ducks have died and around 73,669 fishermen have been affected in the haor areas since the flash floods.