Balu Char, popularly known as “Mini Cox's Bazar” for its sandy areas and scenic beauty, could be developed into an attractive tourist spot.
This char (shoal) emerged six years back on the western bank of Meghna river near Chandpur district town, and has great potentials, said boatmen at Railway River Ghat.
While visiting Balu Char recently, the agency found a riverbank stretching for half a kilometre. The char area is nearly five kilometre long while its width is about one kilometre.
It takes only 10 minutes to get to the char by engine-driven trawlers from Chandpur Boro Railway Station Ghat.
Every day -- especially during holidays -- picnickers, hundreds of men, women and children of Chandpur town and also from far-off areas like Hajiganj, Shahrasti, Cumilla, Roypur, Ramganj, Faridganj and Matlab throng this char to enjoy its beach-like beauty.
This has turned out to be very popular among children and youths because of the waves of the mighty river Meghna.
Despite its natural beauty, the char still lacks basic facilities and necessary safety arrangements for tourists.
There is lack of good seating arrangements and refreshment facilities.
Though a few chairs with umbrellas are found under private arrangement (Tk 50 per chair for an hour), those are not enough to fulfil the demands of visitors.
Mehdi Hasan, 24, a resident of Tongi, Gazipur, said that he came here after hearing about its scenic beauty. “It's really nice, there's no doubt. But, I'm sorry to say the facilities are too inadequate to attract visitors,” he said.
Many other visitors like Mahfuzur Rahman of Sonaimuri, Noakhali echoed the sentiment.
They alleged that their journeys to and from the tourist spot get riskier when trawlers are overloaded as there is no one to monitor. They even charge fares whimsically, visitors further alleged.
Contacted, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Md Shawkat Osman said Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni has already directed the Public Health Engineering Department to set up “Wash Block”.
He said authorities concerned have also been directed to raise the char by dumping sand.
Some local residents, however, said if the char gets bigger it may shrink the rivers and obstruct the natural flow of water at the confluence of the three rivers -- Meghna, Padma and Dakatia.