Katakhali Khal, an important canal flowing through Sadar and Basail upazilas of the district, has become almost dead due to mindless grabbing and pollution.
The canal originates from Louhajang river at Karatia in Sadar upazila and ends five km away at Jhinai river in Nothkhola under Basail upazila, said newly joined Assistant Commissioner (AC-Land) Abdur Rahim Sujon.
Local residents, however, illegally built structures including shops and dwelling houses occupying both banks of the canal in the last two decades, stopping the flow and polluting the water, he added.
Several elderly citizens in Karatia said zamindar Wazed Ali Khan Panni Chand Miah, locally known as 'Atiyar Chand,' dug the canal at the beginning of 1900 for facilitating communication in the area.
Water used to flow through the canal all through the year, including the dry season, they said, adding that wholesalers from different places in the country would come to the traditional Karatia Market with big boats.
After the '90s, influential people started grabbing the canal and also constructed concrete structures on its banks, they said.
Although an eviction drive was started by the district administration in December, 2015, it was stopped for unknown reason, said freedom fighter Shamsul Alam Kayes Chowdhury of Karatia.
Previously, students from different parts of the district came to the college through the canal, said Alim Mahmud, vice-principal of Government Saadat College. “Now the canal has been filled up and water flow has stopped at different places. The water has also become polluted, posing a health hazard for locals,” he added.
Students and teachers of the college, especially those who live in the hostels, are the worst sufferers due to the bad smell from the garbage dumped into the canal, Alim added.
Karatia Union Parishad Chairman Khalkekuzzaman Chowdhury Maznu said all the garbage of Karatia Bazar is dumped into the canal, polluting it badly.
The canal also needs to be excavated to revive its flow, he said, adding that the union parishad could not do it due to lack of funds.
The authorities are preparing a list of illegal occupiers of the canal and will start a drive as soon as possible to evict them, AC Rahim said.
The newly joined Deputy Commissioner of Tangail Mohammad Nurul Amin said the district administration will do everything to save the important canal.