The government has initiated a mega project to dredge three rivers and twenty-two canals in Narail district to restore navigability and improve agriculture and fisheries.
The Tk 303.61 crore project has already been approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council, said Md Shahnawaz Talukder, executive engineer of Water Development Board in Narail.
“Under the project, dredging in 45-kilometre areas of Madhumati, Nabaganga and Chitra rivers is likely to begin in January 2020 and complete by December 2022. Some 80-kilometre areas of 22 canals, which are connected to these rivers, will also be dredged,” he said.
Besides, 11 sluice gates, which were set up at the connecting points of rivers and canals, will be repaired and three new sluice gates will be set up.
In addition to improving river communication, the project will help to solve waterlogging problem by easing drainage of water from the Ichhamati Beel of Lohagara upazila, he said.
Chinmoy Roy, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture Extension in Narail, said, “Eight to ten thousand hectares of land remain waterlogged in Ichamati Beel area and its adjacent localities under Lohagora and Kalia upazilas. If the project is implemented properly, water will move away and the land will come under cultivation.”
Besides, ensuring sufficient water in the canals will help irrigation during dry season, he added.
If the waterlogging problem is solved, farmers will be able to harvest different crops in these vast areas, said Hingul Sikder, a farmer of Mohamadpur of Kalia upazila.
“We the jute farmers incur loss due to lack of sufficient water for retting Jute. We will get rid of the problem if the nearby canals have sufficient flow,” said Pilu Sheikh, a farmer of Kotar Char area under the same upazila.
“Lack of flow due to massive siltation in the three rivers threatens stock of different fish including pangas, ruhi, mala, dhala and chala. If the rivers are dredged to maintain sufficient flow round the year, the fish will be aplenty again,” said Dr Sheikh Shafikur Rahman, district fisheries officer.
“Owners of some 12,000 fish enclosures and 8,000 fishermen who live by catching fish in open water bodies in the district will be benefited if the rivers and canals carry sufficient water,” he said.