A group of civil society organisations (CSOs) and MPs from coastal areas on Saturday urged the government to allocate at least Tk 150 billion for coastal protection, particularly for climate-resilient embankment construction.
Speaking at a virtual seminar, they said the government can make the allocation from the revenue in the national budget for the fiscal year 2021-22.
The environmental experts suggested the government develop an embankment maintenance strategy and ensure effective involvement of local government in the process.
The seminar was jointly organized by the COAST foundation, Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL), Center for Participatory Research & Development (CPRD), and Coastal Livelihood and Environmental Action Network (CLEAN).
Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP, the Chair of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, attended the programme as the chief guest while Aminul Hoque of COAST presented the keynote paper.
Narayon Chandra Chanda, MP from Khulna-5, Mushtaque Ahmed Robi, MP from Satkhira-2, Nurunnabi Chowdhury, MP from Bhola-3, Nahim Razzaq, MP from Shariatpur-3, Asheq Ullah Rafiq, MP from Cox's Bazar-2, Shameem Haider Patwary, MP from Gaibandha-1, Zafar Alam, MP from Cox's Bazar-1, Dr Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus BRAC University, Md Shamsuddoha of CPRD and Hasan Mehedi of CLEAN also spoke at the programme.
In his keynote presentation, Aminul Hoque said cyclone and monsoon floods are damaging the livelihoods and structures in coastal areas every year, causing immense sufferings to people living there.
"But the government has ignored the sufferings of people by placing a traditional budget for embankment construction which is not appropriate to address the issues," he said.
Aminul said the government will have to allocate at least Tk150 billion every year as the minimum requirement for embankment construction. "Local government authorities have to be given the mandate with an adequate budget for embankment maintenance."
Saber Hossain Chowdhury said a national risk assessment is needed to support the government in allocating appropriate resources.
He demanded a roadmap on this issue along with preparing an embankment policy.
Dr Ainun Nishat said political biases should be minimised when it comes to prioritisation and budget allocation for the protection of the coastal embankments and preparing an appropriate embankment planning.
"The projects under the "Delta Plan" have been taken without considering local knowledge," he observed.
Asheq Ullah Rafiq said it is necessary to give a district-wise allocation for the embankment construction and protection.
Nahim Razzaq said a comprehensive water management system and planning is essential to reduce the effect of coastal disasters. "This is only possible by ensuring inter-ministerial coordination. We can form a "Caucus" with coastal MPs to strengthen the advocacy on this issue."