Nabaganga river is about to disappear due to random cultivation on both sides. PHOTO: STAR
Thirteen rivers of Jhenidah are at the edge of disappearance, all of them face increasingly lower navigability and grabbing by encroachers. The grabbers are cultivating different crops and excavating ponds, and, as a result, they are filling up the banks of the river with soil. Jhenidah Water Development Board (WDB) sources said, Nabaganga, Begboti, Fotki, Kabodak, Isamoti, Kodla, Betna, Buri Bhairab, Bang, Chitra, Garai, Kumar and Kali rivers flow through Jhenidah.
Of them only the Garai river contains water all the year round. But the rest contain water only for three months every year, primarily in the rainy season. When the water recedes the farmers cultivate different crops on the river bed. Visiting the spot this correspondent found that the farmers are cultivating on the river beds at random. Some of them have excavated ponds; some have built houses occupying the river land, and have even set up shallow machine on the river bed. Abdul Jalil Joardar of Baroipara village under Shailkupa upazila said that, before the liberation war, in the 1960s, he used to catch fish here since the water was sufficient, but nowadays fish supply is quite low in Jhenidah.
Gopal Dev, an adivasi and fisherman of Adivasipara under Harinakundo upazila said, “I, along with 300 fishermen of this para have lost our main profession. Due to lack of water in the river, there is no fish. We now do whatever work we can find, and our livelihoods have deteriorated. President of Human Rights in Jhenidah branch Aminur Rahman Tuku said, the rivers are being grabbed due to lack of water in the river; 85% of tube wells don't have water. There's no fish in the area, and variety of lives face threat of existence. He alleged that ruling party men are responsible for land grabbing. Those who grab river land lie under the shelter of ruling party men, Rahman added.
Environmentalist Ataur Rahman Miton said, if the rivers go missing, soon, trees will die; environment will face threat of ecological imbalance. Besides, the loss of communication by river ways is also a great loss. Jhenidah WDB chief engineer Abdul Latif said, a project named capital dredging has already started. If the rivers are in the list they will be dredged one after another.