Roars of ‘Amphan’- fear among the coastal people
The cyclone Amphan turned into a 'super cyclone' in a short span of time, raising fears across the coast. In many areas of the coast where there is no capacity to handle small shocks; how can the coast cope with such a big storm?
Such are the questions of local residents. However, the administration is preparing to deal with the cyclone by maintaining social distance in the midst of corona alert. Initiatives have been taken to use educational institutions as cyclone shelters are less than required.
Cyclonic storm Amphan was initially feared to hit the west coast of the country, but it changed shape in the fastest time. Its’ power has increased, radius increased. As a result, the threat now is not just on the West Coast, its violence could spread across the coast. The people of the area adjacent to the Sundarbans on the west coast are just as terrified. Similarly, fear has spread to the central or east coast.
The meteorological department has already issued warnings for coastal districts of Satkhira, Khulna, Bagerhat, Jhalokati, Pirojpur, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhola, Barisal, Laxmipur, Chandpur, Noakhali, Feni, Chittagong and Cox's Bazaar districts and adjoining islands.
Field information sources said many people in remote coastal villages still spend their days in fear of natural disasters. Fear increases when tidal water rises, tidal waves and cyclone signals. The situation is at risk in many places, from Shahpari Island in Teknaf on the east coast to Kalinchi village in Shyamnagar on the west coast. In a very short period of time, cyclone Ampan has taken a terrible form and increased the panic of the people in the coastal villages. All of the five coastal island upazillas are at risk.
About five and a half kilometers of embankments in Dhalghata and Matarbari areas of Maheshkhali upazila of Cox's Bazar are in critical condition. Water will enter from these areas in high tide. On the other hand, the people of Sonadia Island of the upazilla are completely unprotected. Several areas of the adjoining upazilla Kutubdia are at risk. When the rainy season comes, the people there are terrified.
In mid-2016, a cyclone that swept across the coast hit Kutubdia. Several areas of North Dhurunga were affected. That wound is still clear. People of Kaychar Para and Nayapara areas have been suffering since then. The embankment in the Tablar Char area of Kutubdia is very fragile. If it is pushed again, the situation there will become deplorable.
Although work on a new embankment is underway around Sandwip in Chittagong's Dwip Upazila, at least eight kilometers of the embankment is fragile and unfinished. The condition of Sarikait, Harishpur, Maitbhanga, Azimpur, Rahmatpur and Kalapania areas of southwestern Sandwip is critical. As a result, these areas may be affected by the cyclone. Amphan's news evokes memories of 1991 in the area.
Firoz Uddin of Banglabazar in Sarikait said, “I have lost everything in the cyclone. I do not know what happens this time. The embankment work is not over yet. Many areas of Noakhali's Dwip Upazila Hatiya are at risk. Nijhumdwip Union is without embankment. 50,000 people live there. On the other hand, there are about 30,000 people in Hatia part of Dhalchar.
In addition, embankments in many areas of Tamruddi, Nalchira, Sukhchar, Char Ishwar and Chanandi Union are fragile. Monpura, an island in Bhola Island, is quite comfortable as there are embankments all around. However, there are concerns about the Kalatali Char outside the embankment. About 20,000 people live in that char without embankment. There are 4 wards of Monpura Union. On the other hand, there are about one and a half thousand people in the Monpura part of Dhalchar.
Kalatali resident Nurunnabi said, "If there is a big cyclone, our danger will not end." Char has three school-cum-cyclone shelters but will hold a maximum of 3,000 people. However, the Monpura Upazila Administration has taken steps to evacuate people from Kalatali and Dhalchar Monpura parts of the island.
Among the other islands of Bhola, the people of the islands including Char Mozammel, Char Zahiruddin, Hajipur, Madanpur, Kachia, Dhalchar and Char Nizam are quite terrified. The roar of the cyclone in the middle of the corona caused panic among them. There is no safe haven for the more than 5,000 people in Dhalchar, an isolated island in Charfashon, Bhola. Although there are a few shelters, they have long since been lost to river erosion.
In the middle of Bhola Sadar, Ramdaspur, Char Chatkimara, Madanpur of Daulatkhan, Hajipur, Medua, Char Zahiruddin of Borhanuddin (partial), Char Mozammel of Tajumuddin, Bichukhul of Char Mohan are living.
Abdur Rahman Biswas, a resident of Dhalchar Union, said, "We have no choice but to call on Allah in such danger." There is no provision for taking refuge here. News of Amphan's strength brings back memories of the 1970 cyclone. At that time the island was wiped out.
Dhalchar chairman Abdus Salam Hawlader said, "We are ready to take the people to safe shelter." Nasiruddin Nannu, chairman of Madanpur union in Bhola Sadar, said there was no need to bring the people of Char here. 10,000 people of Char will be able to take shelter there.
Meanwhile, the district administration has started work to evacuate more than three lakh people living in 21 chars of Bhola district to safe shelter. Deputy Commissioner Masud Alam Siddique said 20 boats have been kept ready to bring the people to safety. In addition to cyclone shelters, some educational institutions will provide shelter to the people.
In the Meghna Basin, about 6,000 people belong to Dwip Union Char Abdullah in Ramgati Upazila of Laxmipur. The distance from Ramgati Upazila Sadar to the island is about an hour and a half by trawler. Local resident Alauddin Master said cyclone signals had been announced in three markets here. People have been told to stay in safe shelters. However, there are no shelters, earthen forts or other paved buildings for human shelter. As a result, the residents are apprehensive.
Victims of river erosion from different areas have taken shelter in these chars. Natural disasters make these people helpless. The people of these areas are not protected even though the tidal water comes at medium height. Life-saving shelters are very limited in these chars. There are no big trees which will save the grazing life from natural disasters.
Patuakhali's Galachipa, Kalapara, Rangabali, Dashmina and Baufal have several unprotected chars at risk of natural disasters. Water enters those chars at normal tide. There are no embankments in many places. Again, even if there is an embankment somewhere, it has been swept away by the strong tide.
Rangabali Island Union Charmontaj is at extreme risk. The same situation is with Rangabali Island Union Chalitabuniya. People in many places of Galachipa Charkajal, Char Biswas, Panpatti live at risk.
The natural risks of Taltoli of Barguna, Patharghata, Majherchar in Pirojpur, Bogi in Sharankhola, Tafalbaria, Koira in Khulna, Dakop, Gabura in Satkhira are not diminishing in any way. Among these areas, the people of Morelganj, Sharankhola and Aila devastated Koira, Dakop and Shyamnagar of Sidr devastated Bagerhat are at high risk of natural calamities.
Bangladesh has come a long way in disaster management. The death toll from the cyclone has dropped. The cyclone warning system has improved. The number of shelters has been increased. New embankments have been built in many places. Communication development has improved.
Due to these reasons, the number of deaths due to disasters has come down a lot. The amount of damage has decreased. Nevertheless, there are risks. Many areas of the coast are still unprotected. When the tide rises, the house sinks. The fragile embankment is broken by a small push. There are no such embankments all over the coast. Similarly the height of the dam was not increased as required. As a result, it will be difficult to avoid major catastrophes on the coast in the event of a major impact such as the cyclones of 1991, 1970 and 2007.