Home Bangladesh 25 major bridges killed life of rivers
Bangladesh - February 18, 2024

25 major bridges killed life of rivers

Zarif Mahmud : The main 25 bridges of Bangladesh have killed the lifeline of rivers. There are five more major bridges have planned to build shortly. These will turn the country into a deserted island in next 20 years, fear experts.
The size and course of main river including Padma, Jamuna, Bhahmaputra and Meghna, is constantly changing. Based on the analysis of satellite images, a report by the US space agency NASA said that between 1988 and 2018, Padma has become relatively narrow. The course of the river has changed from straight to crooked. Increased braiding or intersecting trends. Padma now has three bridges. Centenary Hardinge Bridge, Lalonshah Bridge and Padma Bridge to be commissioned in 2022. At present, the bridge department of the government is planning to build six more bridges on this river.
The NASA report identifies two reasons for the changing trend of Padma’s size and trajectory. One is that there is no system to protect the banks of this free-flowing river. The second is the Padma beach. Due to the influence of these two, the trend of changing shape and trajectory has increased. Experts fear that if six new bridges are built in the meantime, they may threaten the existence of the river.
In this regard, river researcher Mahbub Siddiqui told, “If any more bridges are constructed on the Padma, the water flow of the river will be more damaged. Meanwhile, the water flow of Padma has reduced. In the Bangladesh part, up to 24 feet of sediment has accumulated. Same situation from Rajshahi to Gwaland via Hardinge Bridge. If any other project is taken in this river, the water flow of the river will be stopped or weakened. As a result, the existence of the river will be in crisis.
Currently, the bridge department is working on a 30-year master plan, which will be completed next June. Talking to officials of the department, it is known that in the master plan, it is proposed to construct about 80 large infrastructures including bridges, tunnels and expressways. Of these, there are six proposals to build bridges on the Padma. Initially, the construction of bridges between Pabna-Rajbari, Paturia-Goaland, Harirampur-Faridpur, Dohar-Bargram, Sujanagar-Pansha and Kushtia-Pabna has been proposed.
The big bridges are Shah Amanat Bridge and Shah Amanat Old Bridge on Karnafuli, Payra bridge on Payra, Padma on the river Padma, M A Khan bridge on Surma, 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship bridge on Kocha, Syedpur Bridge on Kushiyara, Gabkhan bridge on Gabkhan channel, Abduj Zahur bridge on Surma, Lalon Shah bridge on Padma, Syed Nazrul Islam bridge at Bhairon on Meghna, Handinge Bridge on Padma, Second Bhairab Bridge on Meghna, Rupsha Rail Bridge on Rupsha, Khanjahan Ali Bridge on Rupsha, Mukhterpur Bridge on Dhalaswari, Bangabandhu Rail bridge on Jamuna, Bangabandhu Bridge on Jamuna, Bhairab Rail Bridge on Meghna, Sultana Kamal Bridge on Sitalakhya, Meghna Bridge on Meghna, Meghna-Gomoti Bridge on Gomoti, Shahid Abdur Rob Serniabad Bridge on Kritankhola, Major Jalil Bridge on Sandha, Bir Shrestha Mohiuddin Jahangir Bridge on Sandha.
River and water experts say that if more bridges are constructed on the rivers, the burden on the rivers will increase. Water flow will be interrupted. Water expert engineer MInamul Haque told, “Building a bridge over the river is an engineering matter. It can be made if you want. But there is no doubt that the burden on the river will be heavier. Moreover, there is no need for any bridge on the Padma River for the time being. Time will tell if there is a need in the future. A bridge is an expense. There is no reason to build bridges unnecessarily and benefit contractors and foreigners over the people of the country.
Although bridge department officials say the master plan is underway, that doesn’t mean all proposed infrastructure will be implemented. The matter is not final yet. How much these infrastructures are needed in Bangladesh, where they have opportunities and possibilities; Basically, those things will come up in the grand plan.
Padma, the second longest river in the country, has a length of 366 km. According to NASA data, Padma has changed shape and trajectory continuously over the last three decades. And another study by the Bangladesh River Research Institute has revealed that in addition to the downstream region, erosion has increased in the upstream of the Padma between 2015 and 2019. Along with erosion, new vegetation is emerging in Padma.
On the surface, around the Padma bridge area, several chars and sands have been seen that have been newly awakened by the accumulation of silt. In particular, around the pillars 37 and 38 of this bridge, several sandbanks have arisen, where the water flow has taken the form of a narrow channel. In all, four chars have been seen in the Padma Bridge area, the first of which is from Pillar No. 11 to Pillar No. 17 at the Jazira end. Another shelf rises from pillar number 24 to pillar number 31. Another char is raised between pillars 33 and 37. Locals complain that since the inauguration of the Padma bridge, these chars have arisen due to the suspension of river excavation activities for a long time. Due to these fodder, besides disrupting the water flow of the river, the quality of life of the locals has started to be adversely affected.
Fisherman Shibu Das of Medinimandal Union of Lauhajong Upazila of Munshiganj. He used to use 15-16 boats to catch fish in the river before Padma Bridge. Hilsa fish was mostly caught. After the launch of the Padma Bridge, the number of boats was reduced to six due to the fish crisis. Last Tuesday around 6 am, Shibu Das went out to fish himself with a fishing boat. Eight liters of fuel oil was filled in the engine of the boat. He took another fisherman with him for a salary of 350 taka. But the fish they managed to catch by working hard all day could not increase the oil cost of the boat.
Shibu Das said that after the opening of the Padma Bridge, hilsa is not available in the surrounding areas, and other fish are also not available. The river is at the end. My ancestors also fished in this place. We have six to seven thousand fishermen here. Everyone earns a living by fishing here. Now, if you look at each person’s house, it can be seen that they are spending their days very hard. No one gets fish. Going towards Chandpur with trawler, some fish are available there. But the fishermen of that area stopped us. Does not allow fishing.
In Bangladesh, such new infrastructures including Padma Bridge, Karnaphuli Tunnel have been created in the meantime, and after evaluating the impact on people’s lifestyle and whether they have any negative impact on the environment, environmentalists have suggested the construction of new infrastructure in the river. In this regard, Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) Syeda Rizwana Hasan told, “Before taking mega projects on the country’s rivers, our recommendation will be to analyze the mega projects that have been implemented. Whether these infrastructures are affecting the river-environment-mountain-forest in any way, it should be studied and new projects should be taken. We can build many roads, but if a river-mountain-forest is destroyed, we cannot bring it back. Mountains and rivers should be preserved to create new infrastructure. Otherwise, the country may sink under the weight of infrastructure.’
Menjur Hossain, secretary of the bridge department, said, “We can’t destroy the river by building unnecessary bridges.” And we are not building bridges right now. Now the forward-backward linkages are identified. Stakeholders are involved in this plan. What projects can be taken up, what can be excluded will be decided after discussing with everyone. Construction of infrastructure like bridges and tunnels always has an adverse effect on rivers. If you stick to anything natural, it will have an adverse effect. Does the dam affect the river? If you build a dam on one side, it will break on the other side. However, there are measures to reduce this loss. The bridge we built in Padma, but now we are doing regular river management. We are constantly monitoring the Jamuna. Our rivers carry a lot of silt. We are always monitoring the nature of the river including silt flow and water flow.
On the other hand, the senior secretary of the Ministry of Shipping, Mustafa Kamal, believes that if the infrastructure is built in accordance with the rules, it does not have any adverse effect on the river. He told, “In 2016, I saw 27 road and rail bridges in South Korea’s Hang River. If the infrastructure is built according to the rules, the number of pillars is kept right, then I don’t see any reason for the problem.
River experts say that the Padma river naturally never occupies more than two and a half kilometers. In the area of Padma Bridge, this river is gradually moving towards Jazira from Mawa. BRAC University Center for Climate Change and Environment Research Department Emeritus Professor Dr. Ainun Nishat fears that this trend may continue for the next five-six years and the river from Mawa may gradually move up to Pillar No. 8. Before constructing a new bridge on the Padma, he thinks it is most important to analyze the nature of the river.
Dr. Ainun Nishat told, “When building infrastructure in Bangladesh, bridge engineers usually don’t bother about them. They do not understand the matter.
Since the launch of Padma Bridge, the travel time between Dhaka and south and south-western regions of the country has decreased. Although vehicles can quickly reach the outskirts of the capital using the bridge and the Dhaka-Bhanga Expressway, they face long traffic jams while entering the capital. Communication infrastructure experts say that it is not possible to handle the pressure of vehicles coming from Padma Bridge in the capital. In such a situation, if more bridges are constructed on the Padma, it will increase the pressure on Dhaka.
In this context, the professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology Samchul Haque told, “If the connection with the bridges and land use is not done properly, it can have an adverse effect on the communication system of the country as a whole.” Masterplan is not just infrastructure development. If we do not coordinate the purpose for which this direct connection is given, it will be a project but its purpose will not be fulfilled.

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