Over a hundred Hindu farmers at Falimari village of Lalmonirhat's Aditmari upazila are facing water shortage in cultivating crops, especially Aman paddy, in Dulali Beel (marsh), as some BNP men have illegally started fish farming in almost the entire water body blocking the free flow of water.
Most of the 800-bigha beel is owned by the Hindu farmers, who said the BNP men forcibly erected the fence in early June and were barring the Hindu people from entering their own land. Two bamboo fences have been put on the two ends of the beel.
The fish farmers, led by Bhelabari Union Parishad Chairman Mohammad Ali, also president of BNP's Aditmari upazila unit, has already violated an order of the upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) to remove the bamboo fencing, locally known as bana, by July 25.
The order came after the farmers lodged a written complaint with the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Lalmonirhat on June 10, saying that without their approval, Bhelabari UP Chairman Mohammad Ali and his brothers and BNP activists Babul Hossain, Shawkat Hossain, cousins Mizanur Rahman, Nizam Uddin and his nephew Rasel Miah had started farming fish in the beel blocking the water flow by erecting the bamboo fencing illegally.
The district administration sources said UNO Rezaul Alam Sarker visited the beel on July 10 and served notices on the fish farmers, asking them to remove the fencing by July 25.
As the order remains unimplemented, the Hindu farmers yesterday formed a human chain near their fields, demanding removal of the bana to ensure the free flow of water.
“We have been farming Aman and Boro paddy in our lands in the beel every year, and the beel is being used as a free water body where all villagers fish openly,” said a Hindu farmer, adding that nobody, even the land owners, was allowed to fish in the beel now.
Protap Chandra Roy, a farmer who owns 25 bighas of land in the beel, said they would not get a bumper production of crops due to the illegal fish project. “The BNP men didn't discuss the matter with us. We will never allow the fish project in our farm land,” he said.
Another farmer, Sibindra Nath Roy, said, “We get a huge number of local fish species in this beel, and it is open to all villagers. We, the land owners, are dependent on the crops, especially paddy, we cultivate in the beel.” Roy owns eight bigahs of land in the beel.
Talking to The Daily Star, Bhelabari UP Chairman Mohammad Ali said he was not involved in the fish project, so he was not aware of the UNO's order.
Mizanur Rahman, a cousin of Ali who looks after the project with some others, declined to talk to this correspondent.
Lalmonirhat DC Habibur Rahman told The Daily Star that he was informed by the Bhelabari union parishad on July 26 that the illegal bana was removed.
He said he would send officials to the spot on Sunday or Monday for removal of the fence from the beel. Legal action should to be taken against the illegal fish farmers for violating the UNO's order, he added.