Fishermen have set up a number of barriers blocking the natural flow of an important canal crucial to agricultural activities on about 20,000 hectares of land in two upazilas of Pabna.
Flow of some 20 waterbodies have been blocked in Santhia and Bera upazilas because of 10 enclosures built with materials like bamboo, polythene and cotton net through which water cannot pass.
Fishermen backed by local political leaders, businessmen carried out the misdeed in the last couple of weeks, according to the local office of Water Development Board (WDB).
Water in some 21 kilometre of Kageshwari-3 canal are now stagnant, much to the inconvenience of farmers, who, otherwise, would have harvested paddy or cultivated onion at this time of the year.
“Paddy and onion are the key crops here. Due to prolonged waterlogging, farmers are not being able to harvest paddy or sow onion seeds,” Santhia Upazila Agricultural Officer Sanjib Kumar Goswami told this paper.
“Cultivation of winter crops might also be greatly hampered if prompt steps are not taken to resume the water flow,” he said, adding that authorities concerned including the upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) and the deputy commissioner (DC) had been informed about the situation.
“Water flows to 15 to 20 waterbodies in Santhia and Bera through Kageshwari-3. Fishermen backed by influential people halted the flow by setting up illegal bamboo enclosures,” said Abdul Hamid, executive engineer of WDB (Bera Circle).
“Rainwater usually recedes at this time of the year but as the fishermen had illegally built the structures using shuti (cotton) net, the water could not pass. Through microphones, we have been urging them to remove the enclosures but to no avail,” added the official.
Rayeez Uddin of Afra village in Santhia upazila has lost Aman paddy that he had cultivated on five bighas of land.
“I am unable to harvest now as my crops have been submerged,” said the distressed farmer.
Vast tracts of croplands along Muktar Dhar, Shonaidaha, Ghighudaha Beel, Jamaidaha Beel, Boro Gram Beel, Kholsha Beel, Katiadi Beel in Santhia and Kalkuzra Beel, Shikor Beel, Etekata Beel, and Dhalpura Beel in Bera upazila have gone under water.
During a recent visit, this correspondent found six to seven bamboo enclosures set up at several points, including Shamikjani, Dattapara, Talpatti and Satanir Char, in the two upazilas.