Widespread grabbing over the last several years has put a canal in Rajapur upazila of the district under threat of disappearing.
About four kilometres on both sides of Rajapur canal have been grabbed. The grabbers apply a unique technique to grab the canal's land so that no one can notice it, locals said.
They build an enclosure with bamboos on the canal's bank and fill it up by dumping waste and rubbish into it, they added.
“The canal was around 100 metres wide a decade ago when it is now only 10 metres,” said Jasim Uddin of Rajapur Bazar.
“I used to catch fish in the canal when I was a college student around 12 years ago, but now that is only a memory as it has become a narrow drain due to the grabbing,” said Bholanath Chakrabarty, who lives near the canal. He said he feels sad when he sees the tragic condition of the canal.
“A good source of fish only two decades ago, the canal is now barren as it has lost its width and depth,” said fisherman Shahidul Islam.
Waterlogging has become a common problem in many areas of Jhalakathi Sadar upazila in the rainy season due to grabbing of the canal, locals said.
A 'canal protection committee' has been formed recently led by the assistant commissioner (AC land) in Rajapur upazila to save the canal from encroachment, but it is inactive, said Rahim Reza, a member of the committee.
“We are working for demarcation of the canal though it is going at a slow pace. After demarcation, we will conduct drives against the illegal structures on the canal's land,” said Upazila Nirbahi Officer Afroja Begum Parul.
Parul said the canal protection committee could not work properly as the AC was transferred as soon as the committee was formed.