Teesta river comprehensive management scheme
The northwestern region of Bangladesh floods during the monsoon season practically every year as a result of the river Teesta, which has a history of being erratic. Whether it's a rainy or dry season, the Teesta River's misery persists all year long. More than 30 Upazilas in Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Rangpur, Kurigram, and Gaibandha experience significant flooding as a result of the monsoon. Due to the river's erratic behavior, croplands, homes, and roadways sustain terrible calamity as well as significant damage. Numerous farmers, fisherman, and boatmen lose their livelihoods during the dry season as a result of farmers' inability to crop owing to a lack of irrigation and fishermen's inability to continue fishing in the river.
Due to the unintentional diversion of water for irrigation during the dry season without consideration for the river, the approximately 200 km long river Teesta downstream has now become a desert. Nearly 115 kilometers of the Teesta's 315 km total length have gone through Bangladesh. In the Teesta region, frequent relocation due to floods and river erosion, loss of arable land in the riverbed, severe crop damage from drought and floods, the emergence of water-borne diseases during floods, and the poor condition of the roadways are all typical occurrences. As a result, it has evolved into the North's grotesque grief. The local populace of the Teesta River basin must struggle year-round to endure a new.
The Teesta River is depriving the inhabitants of everything, leaving them penniless, rendering the fertile agricultural plains of the north desolate. This northern region's socioeconomic situation is deplorable. The broader Rangpur area today has a poverty rate of over 52%, with nearly 33% of that number living in rural areas. The erratic river is a constant threat to people's lives, way of life, and jobs. Every year, almost 21,050 individuals on both sides of the river encounter a variety of difficulties. There is no other option than to adopt timely interventions to control the River Teesta in order to expand the provisions for upgrading living conditions and the minimal space for survival.
People will undoubtedly discover prospects for farming by restoring the lost parcels of land in the riverbed if river erosion can be stopped. If the arable areas that have eroded beneath the river due to river erosion can be repaired and reimbursed, the agricultural sector in North Bengal will develop. Since Teesta is the only hazard to cultivable agricultural lands entering the riverbed, even North Bengal might significantly contribute to improving agricultural prospects. According to agro-prospects, the northern districts that depend on the fertile land parcels with the silted alluvial trait would become the main center of production for a variety of crops.
We all know this, however it bears emphasizing that the Teesta River has become disastrous as a result of India's unilateral water removal and the absence of an integrated, planned, and projected domestic care system. The Teesta Treaty must be negotiated with Bangladesh's neighboring India based on a fair share of water distribution because the river flows over both Bangladesh and India. If the river could be properly maintained technically, scientifically, and while enduring a new, it would provide substantially more for lives and livelihoods.
It is indeed a ray of hope that a master plan under the title of 'Rehabilitation and Expansion of Command Area of Teesta Irrigation Project' has already been approved at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC). Reportedly, this superior plan was supposed to be set to accomplish within three years starting in June 2021.
The plan for the River Teesta's protection must be implemented promptly, giving top priority to the common interests of those who live along the river and its banks. To safeguard the advantages enjoyed by farmers in the char zones, practical actions must be implemented. The landless and homeless victims of depredation should be given housing facilities, and the victims of the Teesta erosion and floods must receive compensation. The relevant authorities must implement rehabilitation plans and employment creation initiatives for the benefit of the riverine people, placing an emphasis on their collective growth in the various facets of existence.
Not to add that decreasing the flow of the river and lowering the likelihood of river erosion will occur as river depth is increased. Additionally, it can support a contemporary agriculture system that allows for year-round growing rather than favoring the conventional method. An intense monetary flow will come to the area with the introduction of contemporary agricultural trends and the acceleration of production. It is hoped that the "Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration Project," which aims to alter the 115 km of the Teesta's breadth and depth and redraw its boundaries, would gain traction.
We, the riverine residents of the Northern Region, are confident that this massive plan for the River Teesta will be able to improve the environment, ensure aquatic life abundance, protect biodiversity, create jobs, improve socioeconomic conditions, and aim for a better life for the vast majority of people living nearby. A designed irrigation system will work hand in hand with sustainable water management as a model of a long-lasting solution to the difficulties the Teesta riverine communities have been dealing with for a long time. This ongoing initiative will also lessen the additional obstacles we have been dealing with and the additional costs we have been incurring in order to survive, in contrast to many other locals.
Our genuine plea in this respect is to avoid time and expense overruns, which are a major source of conflict and are also a common occurrence for development projects in our nation. We also hope to see Project Teesta, which aims to save the region's riverine residents, completed successfully and on schedule. Let the River Teesta's erratic behavior be subdued and quickly transformed into a complete blessing for its long-deprived citizens.
The writer is contributor