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Levee


Levee natural or artificial embankment of a river which confines the river within its channel and hinders or prevents flooding. The most elevated depositional linear feature of a river is termed as natural levee. Being located in the highest part of the valley, levees are preferred for settlement, agriculture and other development activities, like port facilities, roads and so on as the area is relatively less vulnerable to flooding. Most of the major rivers in Bangladesh have broad natural levees where urban and rural settlements have developed. For instance, Dhaka City is located on the natural levee of the river buriganga; Narayanganj is on the Shitalakshya river bank; Khulna City is on the bhairab river bank; Sylhet town is on the surma river bank; Mymensingh town is on the old brahmaputra river bank; Rajshahi City is on the ganges river bank and so on.

The newly emerged natural levees are susceptible to regular yearly local flooding. Usually these lands, as part of the broad floodplains, are extensively used in Bangladesh for agriculture. In the initial stage, the surface sediments of the levees remain coarse sand with little humus restricting cultivation for a couple of years, then some varieties of peanuts and rabi crops are practised thereon. Over the next few successive years, if the levees do not suffer from flooding with new sand, soil enriches with more alluvium and nutrients and thus supports a wide range of agriculture. However, depending on the location of the levee, farmers always prefer crops which are grown better under sandy alluvium and need light irrigation. In most central Padma-Meghna basin area, the natural levees are extensively used for growing potato, wheat, peanuts, mustard, watermelon, cucumber, sweet potato, Chilli, and Til (sesame).

The old natural levees, usually the higher part of a floodplain are known as Kanda. In Jessore and Kushtia districts, the same position is called danga. From an agricultural point of view, kanda (also called 'kandhilla jami') is the prime land and may be used for triple crops in a year. It is well drained with friable soils having good moisture holding capacity. Its soils consist of deep silt loam and silty clay loam. Cropping practices of the kandas are dictated by the availability of soil moisture and soil quality of the land. Usually, with the recession of flood water at the end of October or beginning of November kanda emerges first and rabi season starts with the cultivation of potato, mustard, pea, black gram, wheat, etc. It follows by kharif-1 (chaitali crop) having crops like kaon, china, sweet potato, peanut, aus rice, linseed (edible oil), bean, green pepper, etc. In the kharif-2 the usual crops are broadcast aman, jute or aus rice. Kandas are also the priority choice for human settlement. The term kanda is used as suffix to names of settlements, eg, Nagarkanda, Kalmakanda.

Another local term Kandi is used to indicate the lower part of a floodplain. It is used as suffix to name a settlement in the lower valley. The initial settlers reside along the riverbanks (relatively higher part) and give a name, such as Namo kandi. In course of time, the settlement expands and the land also evolves due to changes in hydro-geomorphological conditions of the area or changes in the course of the river. But the settlement remains there. Thus, the name kandi is actually indicative of the origin of a settlement. Typical village names with kandi are quite numerous in the lower part of the meghna and padma basin area. There is no specific norm for naming; but the tradition is to follow local culture. For instance, Rshi Kandi, Jalloaa Kandi and Bepari Kandi all of these names are indicative of the settler's profession, at least in the early stage of the settlements; although in the latter stage many of the settlers may have changed their profession altogether. In some cases, an influential local elite may give name after his family, such as Miya Kandi, Bhuiya Kandi, Monar Kandi, Khonkar Kandi. Some upazilas of Bangladesh have names with the suffix kandi, eg, Baliakandi, Daudkandi, Sariakandi. [Mohd Shamsul Alam]