Dawn News

Protecting coastal areas

THE country’s coastal areas are inhabited by … nearly one-tenth of the population … [who] often have a precarious existence [because of] depressions in the Bay of Bengal and their consequent effects in the form of tidal surges.…

The overall condition in these areas is also threatened from breakage or even washing away of embankments. A network of embankments … facing the sea and secondary ones inland have been built over the years. But it cannot be said that embankment building and … their proper maintenance throughout the year is undertaken carefully or scrupulously.

Corruption and poor planning plague embankment construction and maintenance … They are not built strong enough in the first place or are not repaired in time.…

The need for proper building of embankments and their thorough maintenance has been in focus for a long time. But what surprises is lack of official attention to these issues. As it is, it should be no overstatement … that [a] great deal of the damage and losses associated with depression-related destruction could be avoided if the embankments did not give in so easily.…

The coastal areas now have a greater number of storm shelters than in the past. But clearly there is need to increase their number … Policy planners need to understand that investments made towards such expansion of safety structures in the coastal areas will only diminish … the requirement of expensive rebuilding efforts after each storm or tidal surge. The objective of sustainable reduction of poverty will be promoted.

River erosion and destitution of people as a result [of tidal surges] have been a long-standing serious problem. A large number of the unwanted and helpless people who arrive in Dhaka regularly are the victims of such erosions. Plans and their execution need to be there to try and control river erosions where these are noted as well as effective programmes for the resettlement of people affected by river erosions. —(Aug 28)


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