The erosion of Kuakata sea beach in Patuakhali has re-escalated yet again in the span of just around three months, causing serious concerns among investors, tourists, traders and local people.
After suffering from erosion in July this year, the beach is now rapidly eroding from the east, which has already caused hundreds of mangrove trees to disappear into the sea.
The Kuakata beach has been eroding for over the past two decades, and so far, around 1 kilometre has been swallowed up by the sea gorge – with heavy tidal surges hitting the shore during monsoons, according to the Kuakata municipality.
The sea is eroding away at least 30 to 100 feet of beach land every year, the municipality said.
If the erosion continues this way, the beach will disappear within the next decade, said a councillor on condition of anonymity, adding that measures so far taken by the authorities are not nearly enough to protect this beach.
The councillor further said, "Tourists used to rest under the coconut trees in a garden at the beach, but that garden disappeared into the sea around 10 years ago. The long beach stretching 18.5 kilometres was covered with coconut, palm and mangrove trees.
"But most of these forests have been destroyed by erosion."
The business community in Kuakata echoed the same, claiming that no action is being taken to curb the rapid erosion of mangrove forests occurring recently on the beach.
Local people recently organised several demonstrations, including a few human chains, pressing home their demand for action to protect the Kuakata beach.
Businesses express concerns
Owners of hotels, restaurants and other businesses have expressed serious concerns over the rapid erosion, as their businesses solely depend on the beach and its surrounding areas covered in natural beauty.
Mohammad Al-Amin, manager of Shikder Resort – one of the biggest hotels at the beach, told The Business Standard, "We have made huge investments to build tourist facilities here so that we can make a profit.
"If the beach loses its natural beauty, the number of tourists visiting Kuakata will dwindle, and we will face heavy losses."
Shahid, a restaurant owner at the beach, said, "The erosion has left us disappointed as it is putting our livelihoods at stake. Action must be taken to protect this beach."
Al Mamun, a visitor from Dhaka, said, "I am shocked to see the destruction of the mangrove forest at the beach. It is one of the main tourist attractions of Kuakata."
When contacted, Oliuzzaman, executive engineer of the Patuakhali Water Development Division, said, "We have taken up a project to protect the beach, and tenders for it will be floated next week. Work on the project will begin very soon.
"Initially, 1.5 kilometre stretch of the beach will be protected under the upcoming project. We will gradually launch more such projects in the days to come, which will cover other parts of the beach."
He added, "Of the 18 kilometre beach, we will prioritise the protection and beautification of a 3km stretch as most of the tourists visit that area."
Commenting on the matter, State Minister for Water Resources Zahid Faruk said, "I have ordered local officials to take immediate action for protecting the beach. I have already directed them to install some geo tubes at the most vulnerable areas there.
"We are working to turn Kuakata into an international standard beach, so that it can attract more investors there."
Kuakata sea beach in Kalapara upazila of Patuakhali is one of the most magnificent and gorgeous tourist attractions in Bangladesh, allowing visitors to enjoy both the sunrise and sunset from the same spot.