When the Dam Breaks
A Photo feature by A.M.Ahad
"It is difficult to see the yield spoil before our eyes. Whatever we have left and can collect is satisfying to some extent," says Abul Kashem, a farmer in his late thirties, as he stares at a boat ferrying the crop recovered from his paddy field to dry land. Kashem's land now lies submerged under floodwater.
More than 90 per cent of arable land in Jingabuta Haor was flooded when the onrush of water from the Dhanu river broke the Haizda embankment in Mohanganj Upazilla, Netrokona. Local villagers in the area volunteered to help repair the damaged parts of the dam, but their efforts did not stop the flooding. By April 22, more than two thirds of the land was under water.
The Water Development Board supervisor of Mohanganj Fazlul Haque says that it was impossible to predict the rapid rise in water levels, and hence impossible to take prior precautions. He also believed that the flood could have been avoided if the embankment had been built higher, or if the riverbed had been dredged previously.
Sabur Ali, a local farmer, blames the authorities. "For five years, there has been no reconstruction of the damaged dam, because (local) leaders ate up the funds."
Without land for grazing and food to feed the cattle, local farmers and cattle farms may also be forced to sell off the cows before Eid-ul-Azha, depriving them of the good prices such livestock usually fetch at the annual Muslim festival.
While the villagers and authorities try to explain and understand how their lives have been turned upside down in the span of just a few days, at least one farmer, Mustafa, has an explanation for it all. "It is God's wish, and there is nothing we can do."