The Louhajang river in Tangail is in a sorry state these days, thanks to mindless encroachment on both sides of the watercourse.
While visiting the river recently, this correspondent found concrete structures built on both sides of the river at Akur Takur Para, West Akur Takur Para, Kagmara, Stadium Area, Dhulerchar, Beradoma, Dighulia, Kagmari and Mirer Betka in the municipality.
The illegal structures have clogged the river in such a way that one bank is just a stone's throw from another.
Going down the memory lane, some senior citizens in the town have said goods-laden boats used to ply and anchor here even three decades ago.
A road at College Para in the town was named as 'Amghat', as mangoes from Rajshahi were unloaded there, they added.
They blamed the construction of a sluice gate on the river in 1992 that left it in dire straits.
The Water Development Board under its Flood Action Plan-20 built the gate near the confluence of the Louhajang and Dhaleswari rivers.
Originating from the Dhaleswari river at Baisnabbari in Sadar upazila, the 35-km long Louhajang flows through Tangail town and falls into the Bangshai at Jamurki in Mirzapur upazila.
The sluice gate dealt a blow to the river's navigability, which in turn encouraged grabbers to encroach on the river in succeeding years in the absence of a much-needed water flow, locals added.
Abdur Rashid, sub-divisional engineer of the WDB in Tangail, said the river was at least 150 feet wide even a decade ago. He said the breadth of the river has shrunk by 60 feet.
Environment activist Masudur Rahman Rana said appeals to revive the river by local groups had gone unheeded.
Shahidur Rahman Khan Mukti, mayor of Tangail municipality, said, “We have been constructing a 5-km walkway on the bank of the river in the municipal area under a project funded by the WDB. The initiative will save the river from being encroached upon.”
He, however, said the construction works had been stalled due to a funds crunch.
Anisur Rahman Miah, Deputy Commissioner of Tangail, said he had advised the municipal authorities to construct walkways on both sides of the river.
The administration had been working on a list of grabbers and structures, he said.
The DC, however, added that the whole process would take six months to complete.