Members of parliament, civil society organisations, and experts have demanded allocation of Tk15,000 crore in the 2021-22 fiscal national budget for protecting coastal areas, especially for climate-resilient embankment and dam construction.
They also called on the government for an integrated embankment maintenance strategy and inclusion of local government for maintenance of the infrastructures.
They made the calls in a webinar organised by 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 and the chair of the Parliamentary Standing committee on the Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change was the chief guest at the webinar.
Chowdhury said, "A national risk assessment is needed for appropriate resource allocation for the government."
He called for a roadmap on the issue along with preparing an embankment policy.
"Every year cyclones and monsoon floods are damaging the livelihood and causing suffering to the coastal people. But the government has ignored their plights and proposed an unfair budget [without prioritising] embankment construction," Syed Aminul Hoque from COAST said while delivering the keynote address.
He made several demands to the government for protecting coastal areas, including allocation of at least Tk15,000 crore every year as a minimum requirement for embankment construction, inclusion of local governments for the maintenance of the infrastructures, and alternative plans to protect coastal areas especially natural protection, and skill-oriented education to facilitate employment for coastal population.
Meanwhile, Dr Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus Brac University, said the projects under the "Delta Plan" have been taken without consideration of local knowledge.
He said the political biases should be minimised in embankment planning.
Asheq Ullah Rafiq, MP from Cox's Bazar-2 said, "We are unable to predict tidal surges and that's why some areas of Cox's Bazar district suffer damages every year."
"Comprehensive water management systems and planning is very essential to reduce the effect of coastal disaster. This is only possible with inter-ministerial coordination," said Nahim Razzaq, MP, Shariatpur-3.
He proposed to form a "Caucus" with coastal MPs to strengthen the advocacy on this issue.
The webinar was moderated by Rezaul Karim Chowdhury from COAST and Ziaul Hoque Mukta of CSRL. Narayan Chandra Chanda MP Khulna-5, Mir Mushtaque Ahmed Robi MP Satkhira-2, Nurunnabi Chowdhury MP Bhola-3, Shameem Haider Patwary MP Gaibandha-1, Zafar Alam MP Cox's Bazar-1, Md Shamsuddoha of CPRD and Hasan Mehedi of CLEAN also spoke at the webinar.