Pakistan Post Office is issuing a Commemorative Postage Stamp of 20-Paisa denomination on Feb. 25, 1971 to commemorate the remarkable project relating to Coastal Embankments, under-taken by E. P. WAPDA as a valuable contribution to the economic develop-ment of East Pakistan.
The Coastal Embankment Project is one of the outstanding undertakings of East Pakistan Water and Power Develop-ment Authority. Passing through the districts of Khulna, Bakerganj, Noakhali and Chittagong and parts of Jessore, the coastal belt stretches over 330 miles along the Bay of Bengal. It extends from the Indian border on the west to Burma border on the east.
With its peculiar geographical position being situated on the apex of the Bay of Bengal, East Pakistan witnesses very difficult climatic conditions and is fre-quently visited by cyclonic storms, tornadoes and tidal bores. The night of 12th Nov. 1970 in the coastal areas of East Pakistan was undoubtedly the worst in living memory. Most of the lands in the coastal areas of East Pakistan lie below the high-tide level and are, there-fore, flooded if not protected by dykes and embankments. When the land is flooded by seawaters, it leaves a layer of soil on the ground and makes the land unfit for cultivation until the salt is leached down by rain water. When any area is enclosed by dykes, it becomes necessary to provide arrangements to drain out the accumulated rain water from within the embankment area. This drainage is governed by the tide levels in the rivers i.e. water will drain out as long as the level in the river remains below the land level. Most of the lands in these areas have been brought under cultivation by farmers who put up some sort of low dykes (bunds) along the banks of the rivers but not much could be done by them against the ravages of tidal bores and in-rush of sea-water.
The East Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority has prepared the Coastal Embankment Project to provide for properly designed embank-ments which are strong enough to with-stand the pressure of sea water and for sluices gates which will automatically drain out water from within the embank-ed areas. In preparing the project, the embankments have been aligned in such a manner that all major tidal rivers and routes of navigation have been kept open. The embankments have been designed to withstand normal tidal levels and surges. These will be provided with flap gates on the river side which will open automatically when the tide level goes below the land level and will close when it is higher than the water level inside. The project is an extensive land reclamation undertaking, which will provide protection from tidal water to 3.64 million acres of fertile land in the coastal zone in the East Pakistan.
Yet another benefit which accrues out of the coastal embankments project is the valuable protection which is provided by them against tidal bores, It is a known fact that during the Novem-ber 1970 tidal bore, a number of people escaped the vagaries of weather being fortunate enough to have the protection of the coastal embankments. These embankments thus serve two-fold pur-pose, namely, they afford protection to the fertile cultivated land from in-trusion of saline water thereby helping improve the agriculture and water man-agement and the people and their cattle-wealth from cyclones and tidal waves.
The Phase I of the Coastal Embank-ments Project, as approved, consists of 92 “ Polders “ with 2511 miles of embankment and 781 sluices. This pro-gram me was scheduled for completion by June, 1971, but due to certain difficul-ties, a portion thereof has been deferred and the revised Phase I programme will consist of 87 polders with 2,293 miles of embankment and 729 sluices. The total area to be protected under Phase-I is 2.35 million acres. Phase II will not only pro-vide protection to lands in the districts of Khulna, Bakerganj and Noakhali but irrigation facilities during the flood season through adequate numbers of flushing sluices as well.
About 15.20 lac of acres of land have so far been protected against saline and tidal flooding, embankment roads are being used for areas which were hither-to inaccessible.