Hamidul Huq, PhDInstitute of Livelihoods Studies
Rivers of Bangladesh• Bangladesh is a country of 700 rivers.• These rivers are divided into four major river systems: - Ganges river system; - Brahmaputra-Jamuna river system; - Megna river system; and - South-East (Karnaphuli) river system.
Hydrological Regions of Bangladesh 1. South West 4. NW 2. NE 2. North East 3. NC 3. North Central 4. North West 6. SE 6. SE 5. South Central 1. SW 1. SW 5. SC 5. SC 8. RE 8. RE 7. EH 7. EH 6. South East 7. Eastern Hill 8. River & EstuarySource: Mozaddad Faruque, 2009
Southwest Region: • The Southwest region is covered by Ganges river system. This system is again divided into two types: - Rivers originated from the mountain like Padma and its braches; and - the Tidal Rivers. • There are about 170 river and canals in Sundarban alone.
Hydrology of South west regionHigh density of rivers: - 170 river and canal in SundarbanTidal river systemSalinityTidal floodStorm surgeLow flowSea level rise
Tidal River SystemRivers of South West zone are tidal.Two high tide and two low tide times in every 24 hours. The whole area gets inundated during high tide time and water gets receded during low tide time.Southwest region was dominated by capillary tidal rivers’ network including 170 river and canals of Sundarban.Rivers of this region are Muroly, Rupsa, Bhoirab, Kapotakhkha, Horihor, Muktashawry, Sree Nodi, Hori Nodi, Bhodra, Buribhodra, Shalota, Sholemary, Telipati, Gaury, Modhumati, Nobogonga, Chitra, and Isamoti on the Indian Border.
Tidal River SystemThis region was known as floodplain. The rivers of South West zone are Bay of Bengal bound and brought fresh water from Padma/Ganges in the past until the Padma was dried up with the influence of Farakka.On the other hand, tidal water brought saline water from the Bay of Bengal that damaged the crops.Local people built seasonal earthen dyke to protect their crop field preventing saline water intrusion. They called it Ostomashi bandh (eight months time dyke).
Functions of FloodplainFloodplains perform an important hydraulic function by acting as detention reservoir. The detention function moderates the flood flow.The inter-tidal lands create a flushing action through alternate storage and release of water that helps in maintaining the river morphology.Floodplain water regime provides conditions for rich aquatic habitat for fish, turtles and birds, and resort to migratory birds, and harbor and support animal and plant bio-diversity.The ecological resources of floodplain is an important source of livelihood for the poor section of the society.
Storage of flood water FishSoil formation ShellsGroundwater recharge CrabsLand/soil fertility SnailNavigation DuckFish breeding site Shapla (Water Lily)Fish nursery ShalukWild life Grass for fodderWild birds Medicinal plantIrrigation Water hyacinthDomestic uses of water
Coastal Embankment Project (CEP)With the objectives of protecting crops, increasing agricultural products/grow more food and goal of creating permanent agro-based production structure and food security, the Pakistan Government implemented the “Coastal Embankment Project” in Southwest Region.During the period of 1960 - 1970, 37 Polders, 4000 km dyke and 780 sluice gates were built and 540,000 ha floodplain were brought under polders in Southwest region.
•Farmers could grow double, even triple amountcrops in following 10-15 years of CEPimplementation.•Road communication improved.
Water LoggingWater logging appeared due to these polders, sluice gates and embankment and got escalated over the period since 1985.The whole floodplains of SW region got affected by water logging.Agriculture collapsed totally & Farmers were helpless.Agriculture laborers became unemployed.Fishermen became vulnerable.Overall livelihoods had turned into extreme vulnerable, people were forced live in permanent hazards.
Khulna-Jessore Drainage Rehabilitation ProjectKJDRPBWDB implemented Khulna-Jessore Drainage Rehabilitation Project during the period of 1994 – 1997The objectives was “poverty reduction through increased agriculture production and creation of on-farm employment in the project area”.Specific objective was “to provide/enhance improved drainage and flood control facilities to 100600 ha of gross benefitted area”.KJDRP was seriously contested, protested and opposed by the local people because of its engineering physical structural approach to address the water logging issues. But the KJDRP continued.KJDRP generated extreme level of Water logging in the area.
TRM by the local peopleThe Water Logging condition escalated up to an extreme level in 1997.Local people got organised under Pani Committee (water committee)Facilitated a ‘public cut’ of the embankment on Beel Vayena to reopen the free flow tidal system,Which made the area water logging free.This system continued for four years and three months.
Impact of TRM70,000 ha land got free from water loggingThe linked Hori river bed level was higher than Beel Vayena before TRM, which got free from siltation by the TRM and bed if 10-12 meter deep and wideness of this river increased up to two to three times.Beel Vayena bed is leveled with the siltation, because 90% of the tidal silt got deposited into the beel.Villages are now free from water logging.Agriculture is back to the area.Livelihoods opportunities are also back to some extent.
TRM by BWDBDrawing upon a report of CEGIS on People’s TRM, BWDB initiated TRM project in 2002.BWDB labeled the people’s initiated TRM as “unplanned TRM”.BWDB implemented a planned TRM in Beel Kedaira during the period of 2002- 2005.This TRM generated extreme water logging in the area because, only 1/13th amount of tidal silt got deposited into the beel and the rest of the tidal silt got deposited into the river.The planned TRM was again engineering physical infrastructure dominant.
TRM by BWDBBWDB initiated their 2nd TRM in 2006 in Beel Khukshia.Local people demanded compensation.BWB agreed. Implementation of this project continued without paying compensation.Local people think, it will need at least 10 years to fill up Beel Khukhsia up to cultivation level.Local people cannot use this beel.More than 2000 families of 13 villages around Beel Khukhsia are rather victims of this TRM project of BWDB.
TRM by BWDBLocal people expected that the BWDB should use the knowledge and experience of people’s initiated TRMBut unfortunately BWDB followed their own traditions.Hence, their “planned TRM” project failed.TRM may be efficient and effective if it is embedded in ‘counter-development’ approach.