AL men encroach on Pabna river
In a flagrant breach of environmental law, ruling Awami League men have built dykes on Chiknai river in Chatmohar of Pabna in the name of a fish project, halting the natural flow of the river.
Within two kilometres of the river, the encroachers erected two embankments at Bonnagri and Sangram in Mulgram union, this correspondent found on a recent visit to the areas.
They are planning to build another dam at Atlanka, some one km north of Bonnagri, local sources said.
Locals said Md Kazal Bishwas, joint secretary of the AL Mulgram union unit, along with the local ruling party men had constructed the dams around two weeks back.
But Assistant Commissioner (Land) of Chatmohar Md Samsuzzaman claimed they had stopped the construction last week and formed an inquiry committee in this regard.
Locals said 15 maunds of fish fries were released in the river-cum-pond last week, and more 25 maunds would be released by the next week.
Md Gias Uddin, chairman of Mulgram union parishad, said, “The embankments on Chiknai have literally turned the river into a pond.”
He said they had protested at the move, but the ruling party-backed grabbers did not care a fig for their appeal.
They informed the local administration regarding the illegal move, but no action had been taken, the chairman added.
Asked, Kazal Bishwas claimed that they had erected the embankments taking permission from the local lawmaker.
“The Chiknai river is dying now. We have built dykes on the river to store water for cultivating fish,” he went on.
Terming the fish project as a temporary one, he said no fewer than 40 party men were engaged in the project.
When contacted, Md Mokbul Hossain, lawmaker of Pabna-3 constituency, said, “I did not permit anybody to occupy the river. The grabbers might have used my name to justify their deed.”
He added that he had already asked the local administration to take measures against the occupiers.
Originating from Padma in Natore, Chiknai, one of the important tributaries to Chalan Beel, falls into Boral at Demra point of Faridpur upazila in Pabna.
Md Mizanur Rahman, secretary of the 'Chalan Beel Protection Movement', said the dams on Chiknai would halt the water flow to Chalan Beel, home to at least 40 to 50 local fish species.
Md Azmal Hossain, additional district commissioner (Revenue) in Pabna, said nobody could obstruct the flow of a river.
“As I have come to know about it, we will take legal action against the encroachers,” he added.