Once a lifeline, the river Boral in the northern region has lost its water flow in the absence of much-needed dredging work.
The cross dams and sluice gates built on the river in the name of fishing projects in the 1980s virtually turned it into a dying river, killing 30 other tributaries connected to it on its way through Chalan Beel, the largest marshland in the country.
“The Boral was a major source of irrigation and fish resources for people in the region even 30 years ago,” Md Mizanur Rahman, secretary of Boral River Movement and a resident of Chatmohar upazila in Pabna, told The Daily Star.
The river is not only losing its navigability but also its breadth. These days, the width has reduced to 200 feet from around 500 feet, as the encroachers have grabbed significant portions of land inside the river in the last three decades.
Earlier on October 6, 2013, a technical committee on Boral River dredging visited four districts in the region along the river. Originating from the river Padma in Rajshahi, it ends up in Jamuna, touching Natore, Pabna and Sirajganj.
After the visit, the committee headed by AKM Mozammel Haque, the then chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on land, placed seven recommendations to the 'River Taskforce' on October 22 last year on bringing back navigability to the river.
The recommendations included the removal of four embankments at Mothura, Natunbazar, Bothor and Ramnagar points in Chatmohar upazila; removal of obstacles between Boral and Gumani rivers; stopping the initiative to set up new sluice gate at Nazirpur point; dredging the rivers and canals connected to the Boral for smooth water flow.
Dr. Abdul Matin, secretary of the Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) and a member of the river taskforce, on Wednesday said the recommendations of the technical committee had been approved by the taskforce on November 14 last year.
“The taskforce will take necessary steps for dredging the river in line with the recommendations,” he said.
He, however, added that the process might take some time owing to administrative difficulties.
While talking to The Daily Star, Md Khaza Hannan, deputy secretary of the ministry of shipping, said: “The river taskforce will take necessary steps to implement the recommendations for reviving the dying river.”
It may be recalled that since 2008, local people and environmentalists have been demanding dredging work in the river so that its navigability could be restored.