Once flowing Bhairab river in Nawapara, an industrial town of Jashore, is heading towards virtual death, thanks to illegal occupation.
Some local influential people have built 10 to 15 makeshift jetties almost in the middle of the river, declining navigability of the river. In the jetties, the occupiers have also installed cranes to facilitate loading and unloading of goods from cargo vessels.
They have built the illegal structures at different ghats to occupy a large portion of the river, said Kamrul Islam, general secretary of Nawapara Handling Workers' Union.
To improve navigability, the government spends crores of taka for dredging the river but the dredging activities are now being hampered due to construction of the bamboo jetties, he said, adding that the land-grabbing has also caused further siltation of the river.
The water flow in the river is also being disrupted due to construction of the illegal structures, said Kamrul.
The ghats are Chengutia Salt Mill Ghat of Nawapara River Port, Dipak Stone Ghat of Mahakal, Nur Cement Ghat, Master Ghat, Malopara Ghat and Parash Ata-Suji-Maida Mill Ghat.
Wishing anonymity, a trader of Nawapara Bazar said the river is rapidly filled up even after dredging in the Nawapara river port area.
Construction of the jetties with sand, bricks, stones and other materials is severely obstructing the water flows in the river, he said.
Due to illegal occupation of the river, its normal course is being disrupted, said the trader.
If the illegal occupation is not stopped immediately, the encroachers will turn the river into a canal in the near future, he said.
General Secretary of Nawapara Handling Workers' Union Kamrul said due to construction of the makeshift jetties, the navigability of Bhairab is being reduced day by day.
More than ten thousand ghat workers will not survive if the river is dead, he said.
That's why, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) should take immediate steps to save the river by removing the illegal jetties, said Kamrul.
Masud Parvez, assistant director of the Nawapara river port, said the jetties were built following verbal permission but it was not done properly in accordance with the regulations.
The matter has come to the notice of the authorities concerned, he said.
All the illegal structures built in the Bhairab river will be evicted within the next one month, said Masud.