Don’t blame just climate change; ‘haor’ destruction also behind Sylhet floods: Experts

Author

Rafiqul Islam Montu

Source(s)
Down To Earth

Sylhet’s traditional wetlands, which act as sponges absorbing surface runoff, have been destroyed, thereby enabling the current floods, they say

Experts in Bangladesh have cautioned against solely blaming climate change for the ongoing floods in the country’s north-eastern Sylhet division. They say the destruction of Sylhet’s traditional wetlands, known as ‘haors’ are also part of the reason.

The whole of Sylhet division has been flooded since June 16 and 17, when rains upstream in India’s Meghalaya and Assam caused rivers flowing from there to Sylhet to swell and burst their banks.

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Experts highlighted how the excess water moving from upstream towards Sylhet had deluged Bangladesh’s fourth-largest city and its vicinity because of the encroachment and destruction of haors.

A haor is a bowl or saucer-shaped shallow depression. During the monsoon, haors receive surface runoff from rivers and canals to become vast stretches of water.

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Experts have urged protection of Sylhet’s haors and the dredging of its rivers to prevent similar deluges in the future.

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The destruction of wetlands is of course an important reason. However, what should also not be overlooked is that low-lying Bangladesh is particularly susceptible to climate change, experts said.

This year’s floods in the Sylhet division have broken all previous records. The Centre for Flood Forecasting and Warning said floods had occurred in the Sylhet division in June 1998.

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