by Nadeem Qadir in northern Bangladesh;
Bangladesh’s northern Rangpur city was under knee-to waist-deep water on Sunday after thunderstorms accompanied by torrential rains uprooted trees, snapped power lines and hit mobile networks.
Officials in the city told newsnextbd.com that it is the worst such flooding in more than 30 years after the major nationwide deluge in 1988.
The sky was overcast with drizzles on Sunday with forecast of more rains.
Asif Ahsan, the Rangpur Divisional Commissioner, went around this small city of some 900,000 people said the whole city was flooded and generally heavy rains do not cause such a situation.
He told nexnextbd.com that since Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning the city was dumped with 255 milimitres of rain, triggering the worst such flooding in 30 years, but if there is no heavy rains again, the water will drain out slowly.”
“The cities Shyama Shunduri and Ghagot canals overflowed and other drains were clogged causing the slow drainage of water from the city,” Ahsan said, adding that trees were uprooted and power lines were snapped.
Power will be restored gradually as safety of the people is most important, said the divisional chief.
Rangpur is one of the oldest municipalities if the country and was know earlier as “Ranggamahal” meaning that the ancient Kings of Bengal passed their time enjoying dance or other colourful amusements.
Asked if the water from the much-talked-about Teesta river had overflowed, a senior engineer of the Water Development Board in the city told newsnextbd.com that the rumours that water from the river is wrong.
“Only low-lying areas have been inundated by the Teesta river water and the city’s situation is due to water-logging,” he added, asking not to be named.
However, rumour mills were active since Sunday morning that neighbouring India must have opened the sleudge gates of the transboundary river triggering the flooding.
Abu Hena, a retired official of a private company, insisted that this flooding is the worst since the major deluge of 1988 and water from the Teesta river has entered city.
Bangladesh and India have long discussed a settlement on sharing the water of the river, especially during the winter, and came very close to a solution in 2011. It was due to the objection of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that an approved agreement had to be shelved at the last minute during the 2011 visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government is now considering a Teesta Basin management plan with China, which has offered 1 billion dollar for the purpose.
The government has already undertaken a mega-plan surrounding the Teesta river.
Residents of Rangpur are unanimous in backing the premier’s plan, saying Bangladesh has to solve the problems linked to the river for the sake of lives of thousands of people.
In a related development, mobile phone networks were also disrupted due to the long power cut.
The 1988 floods during the rule of late General Hussain Muhammad Ershad, who belongs to this northern city, was among the worst to hit calamity-prone Bangladesh criss-crossed by more 400 rivers and canals. The deluge left more than 1,000 people dead.