Hundreds of people of eight villages in Lalpur upazila under Natore district are passing each day amid great worries due to severe erosion in the Padma.
The eight villages, adjacent to the mighty river, are Palidhea, Gouripur, Nurullahpur, Laxmipur, Tilakpur, Lalpur, Mominpur, and Bilmariya, and Nurullahpur, among them, is in the most vulnerable state.
Villagers in the CC Block of the Padma, getting no response from the local administration, are trying to protect their houses and properties on their own through dumping bamboo, turtles and trees into the river.
They alleged they had earlier informed the local authority about the matter but failed to get any response. The panic-stricken people said they appealed, in written, for the intervention of the WDB authority, including district and upazila administration.
People also alleged that the locally influential section illegally extracted sand from the Padma in its Lalpur part, and as a result many a crack developed in different areas on the bank of the river. The CC block has already broken at a number of spots, and day by day these are increasing.
People largely blamed the local administration for their keeping limited to inspection only. Although, the local administration and the water development board (WDB) claimed they had already started taking measures to stop the river erosion.
According to sources, an 8.585 kilometer long embankment was constructed by the Water Development Board at a cost of Taka 226.04 crore to protect the eight villages at the Lalpur area. But more than 100 yards of the embankment have collapsed due to severe erosion in the river this season.
Villagers of Nurullahpur said that the cracks in the CC block were created during the last monsoon. After dumping sandbags, the village seemed temporarily free from risk. But those sandbags have washed away by the floodwater during this season.
Abul Hossain, Abul Kalam, Rakib, Rezaul, Ziaul Sarder, residents of Nurullahpur, said the river is eroding due to sand-lifting through powerful dredging machines and frequent flooding in the area.
Amjad Hossain, Samir Uddin, Rezaul and Abu Bakkar, residents of the same village, said that this block, built over the past few years, has collapsed as the water flow increased. More than 100 yards have been devoured by the Padma within only two days.
The families, who live on by cultivating sugarcane, rice, wheat, chickpeas, kalyas and vegetables in their lands, said that at least 2,000 acres of land is now under water. Due to inconsiderate sand-lifting, not only has the embankment collapsed but also a huge area of land has vanished in the river.
Natore WDB Assistant Engineer Ashek Ali Miah said, "In the event of the collapse of the CC block, we have visited Nurullahpur. In the next couple of days, experts will analyze the probability of technological collapse and feasibility. If necessary, the matter will be notified to the chief engineer of the board. We have continued the overall activity."
Lalpur Upazila Nirbahi Officer Ummul Bain Dooty said, "The district administration and water development board have already been informed about the matter.
We have already visited the spots."However, the UNO also acknowledged the matter of illegal sand lifting and assured that the syndicate of the sand lifters will be broken at any price.