The Dhaleshwari River remains virtually dry at places even during the ongoing rainy season, causing irrigation problem for the farmers of 12 unions in three upazilas under the district.
The situation has arisen as the once mighty river is silted at Tilli, the source point of the watercourse, in Saturia upazila of the district.
The affected areas are Garpara, Jagir, Krishnapur, Betila-Mitora and Atigram unions of Manikganj Sadar upazila, Baira, Singair Sadar, Talebpur, Joymantap and Dhalla of Singair upazila, and Tilli and Fukurhati of Saturia upazila.
Irrigation of farmland is being hampered for want of water as the river is heading towards death due to continuous siltation for the last 30 years, said Zakir Hossain, chairman of Jagir union parishad.
"Once streamers and launches plied the river and passengers and businessmen went to Kolkata with their goods. We caught many local varieties of fishes from the river. But now there is little fish there," said Chand Mia of Krishnapur.
To press for their demand to conduct massive excavation at Tilli, and remove illegal structures, unplanned embankment, roads and bridges from different areas of the river for ensuring its smooth flow, locals formed a platform 'Dhaleshwari Nodi Banchao Andolon' in October last year.
Public representatives, lawyers, journalists, teachers joined in the platform. A team of the civil body visited different areas of the river on July 14.
Accompanying the team during the visit, this correspondent saw many illegal structures, unplanned roads, bridges and embankments in the river areas. Lands emerging in the middle of the river are being used for growing crops.
To press for five-point demand including dredging of the river, Dhaleshwari Nodi Banchao Andolon submitted copies of a memorandum to the chairmen and upazila nirbahi officers of Saturia, Singair and Manikganj Sadar upazila, deputy commissioner of Manikganj and all three local lawmakers, said Azaharul Islam Arzu, convener of the movement.
Its copies were also sent to the offices of the prime minister, water resources ministry and agriculture ministry but there is no response from any quarter yet, he said.
"We urged the government to take up a plan for dredging the Dhaleshwari River in the annual programme of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council," said Azaharul Islam.
Contacted, deputy commissioner of Manikganj Rashida Ferdaus said, "I have recently joined Manikganj. I will visit the river area soon to take necessary steps."
Mizanur Rahman, executive engineer of WDB, said, "We have made a survey of the area. We will dig the river between Char Tilli and Bangladesh Haat so that water can enter the channel and flow easily."