By Sumi Khan
Dhaka, July 14 (IANS) A red alert was sounded in Bangladesh’s flood-affected Teesta zone on Monday while an eight-month-old girl in Lalmonirhat district became the latest fatality in the ongoing floods.
The alert was issued by the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) as the Teesta was flowing more than 53cm above the danger level at the Teesta Barrage Point area under Hatibandha upazila (sub-district) of Lalmonirhat.
According to the BWDB’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre, heavy rains might continue in northern Bangladesh and adjoining Indian states of Assam, Meghalaya, and West Bengal during the next 72 hours.
Already 10 districts have been flooded. In the next 24 to 72 hours, at least three more districts may be affected. Experts warn that if the rains continue, the lower reaches of Dhaka and Narayanganj could be inundated by the end of next week.
As many as seven million people have been stranded in the flood-hit districts. Rural roads and crops have been submerged.
Meanwhile, State Minister of Relief and Rehabilitation, Dr M. Enamur Rahman told IANS on Monday that there will be no irregularities in the relief distribution, as only the real victims will be listed for aid.
In a tragic incident, eight-month-old Alifa was sleeping with her mother when she fell into the floodwater and drowned. When her mother woke up, she found the baby’s body floating in the floodwater that entered their house from the Teesta, said Atiar Rahman, chairman of Gaddimari Union Parishad in Lalmonirhat.
Many people do not want to go to shelters out of fear of being affected by Covid-19, though their homes have been flooded.
With many people of the area dependent on selling hens, ducks and cows for their livelihood, they have taken shelter with their animals to keep them safe from the flood.
One of them, Karim Mia thought that he would earn some money by selling four cows during Eid-ul-Adha. But, the flood has put paid to his plans.
Sunamganj’s Secondary Education Officer, Jahangeer Alam told IANS that a family has taken shelter at the Alauddin Memorial School with their 700 ducks. “They are getting relief. But what about the animals? The administration is worried about how to feed the ducks,” he said.
The Teesta crossed the danger mark at Dalia point in Nilphamari district on Monday evening as major rivers started rising again following onrush of huge water from the upper catchment area of the Brahmaputra basin in India following incessant rains during the last 24 hours.
BDWB’s Chief Engineer, Rangpur Zone, Jyoti Prosad Ghosh said water levels of the Dharla, Teesta, Brahmaputra and Jamuna rivers might continue to rise further during the next 72 hours to cause a flood situation again in the basin.
“We’re closely monitoring the situation round the clock and ready to take immediate steps to repair any damage or breached flood control structures on an emergency basis anywhere in all eight districts of the division.
“All flood control embankments and structures are safe in the zone where riverbank protection works are continuing at most of the 52 vulnerable points in Lalmonirhat, Kurigram and Gaibandha districts,” he said.
BDWB’s Executive Engineer, Teesta Zone, M. Rabiul Islam told IANS that the Teesta was flowing 28cm above the danger mark at Dalia in Nilphamari on Friday, and some low-lying areas of four upazilas in Nilphamari and areas of adjoining Lalmonirhat again went under floodwaters as the river again crossed its danger mark on Monday evening.
The rising trend in water levels of major rivers might continue during the next 72 hours and the Dharla may also cross the danger mark in the next 24 hours.
During the past 24 hours till 9 a.m. on Monday, 551 mm rainfall was recorded at Cherrapunji, 120 mm at Shillong, 297 mm at Pasighat, 99 mm at Dhubri, 154 mm at Goalpara and 50 mm at Jalpaiguri in upstream Indian states of Meghalaya, Assam and West Bengal.
In Bangladesh, 103 mm rainfall was recorded at Chilmari in Kurigram, 58 mm at Kawnia in Rangpur and 53 mm at Gaibandha monitoring points.
Water levels of the Dharla rose by 18 cm at Kurigram, of the Brahmaputra by 15 cm at Noonkhawa and 10 cm at Chilmari points during the last 24 hours.
Levels of the Jamuna rose by 11 cm at Fulchhari, 6 cm at Bahadurabad, 4 cm at Sariakandi, 2 cm at Kazipur and 4 cm at Sirajganj points in Sirajganj during the period.