The great poet Jibanananda Das would not wish to return to the bank of the Dhanshiri river if he knew about its present condition.
The mighty river is drying up day by day, which is destroying agriculture and fisheries on its banks.
Hundreds of hectares of farmland that used to be irrigated by the river only a decade ago remain unused for most of the year due to drying up of the river, farmers said.
“We would grow different kinds of crops on our lands in the past, but it is not possible now as the river remains dry for most of the year,” said farmer Tamij Uddin of Hailakathi village in Rajapur upazila.
“Vast areas of farmlands on both sides of the river cannot be used due to lack of irrigation water,” said Rajapur Upazila Agriculture Officer Riaj Ullah Bahadur.
Both sides of the river used to be covered with winter vegetables and watermelons but now they are empty, he said, adding that the river should be protected for the future of agriculture on thousands of acres of land under the two upazilas,
“I have to face loss because I can grow crops only once a year due to the water crisis,” said Anwar Hossain of Pingri in Rajapur.
All kinds of water vessels plied the river only two decades ago, said Shajahan a trader in Rajapur Bazar. Though some small boats ply the river in the rainy season, nothing can move in the dry season, he added.
The river was excavated in 2010-11 at a cost of Tk 54 lakh according to the Water Development Board (WDB) of Jhalakathi, but locals said the excavation was not done properly as it was carried out in a small section of the river.
The tidal water of Gabkhan Channel and Bishkhali river enters the Dhanshiri carrying huge amount of silt, which reduces the navigability of the river very quickly, said Md Jakir Hossain, executive engineer of PWD in Jhalakathi.
The Dhanshiri river has been included in a list of rivers in the southern areas that will be re-excavated, he said, adding that work will start after approval from the ministry concerned.