Falling water level in Kaptai Lake, the largest manmade lake in Bangladesh, and emergence of shoals in it are creating various problems, including suspension of transportation and decline in production of the hydroelectric project.
Movement of launches in the lake remained suspended for several days due to its poor navigability, causing sufferings to two lakh people of Rangamati, officials said.
They said Kaptai Lake was created as part of the Kaptai Hydroelectric Power Plant project in 1960.
After its opening, it became the source of livelihood for locals through fish farming, river communication, irrigation, tourism and others.
Locals said no step was taken to dredge the lake in the last 59 years for improving its navigability despite their repeated demands.
During a recent visit to the Kaptai Lake area, a UNB correspondent found a number of hidden shoals in different parts of Naniarchar, Baghaichhari, Longdu, Barkal, Jurachhari and Bilaichhari upazilas of the district.
The drastic fall of water level in the lake is disrupting communication between the district headquarters and its upazilas. However, Rangamati Launch Owners Association has been providing services through engine-run small boats. Production in Kaptai Hydroelectric plant has declined as well due to the fall.
ATM Abjjur Zaher, project manager of Kaptai Water Power Plant, said the water level in the lake has dropped sharply and power is being generated through a rationing system. The situation will remain unchanged until there is adequate rainfall, he added.
Commodore Mahbub-ul-Islam, chairman of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), stressed the need for dredging in the lake to improve its navigability, saying that no dredging work was carried out in it since its construction in 1960.
AKM Mamunur Rashid, deputy commissioner of Rangamati district, said, “We’ve sent a letter to the high officials concerned demanding capital dredging of the lake. A BIWTA delegation has already conducted a survey in this regard.”