Navigability of Shibbaria harbour in Kalapara upazila is being hampered due to siltation, depriving vessels of a safe place to take shelter during storm or cyclone.
Sea-bound vessels could take shelter in the harbour as Andharmanik river mouth (around 10 km west from Kuakata Zero Point) and another mouth at Kawar Char area (around 20 km east of Kuakata zero point) connect to the Bay.
The 24-km-long channel flows through Latachaplee, Mohipur, Dalbuganj and Dhulashar unions in Kalapara upazila. Vessels could enter the harbour from both sides to take shelter, but both the mouths are facing navigability problems due to siltation.
Water Development Board (WDB) took up a project in 2010-2011 fiscal year to make the harbour active round the year. WDB Kalapara Circle office sent a project profile of around Tk 67 crore to the higher authorities, seeking approval and allocation of funds. A team from WDB visited the site but the project has been waiting at the WDB office for approval for around seven years.
Md Ruhul Amin, 60, of Barkatia village in Dabluganj union said the river was about half a kilometre wide during his childhood, but now it has become so narrow that even one trawler cannot pass easily.
Some influential people set up brick kilns by occupying the riverside about five years ago, he said. This correspondent found three brick kilns set up on the southern side of the river by occupying the bank.
Bipul Hawlader, owner of a brick kiln, also mayor of Kalapara municipality, said he is a shareholder of a brick kiln, and they bought the land from local people but did not occupy it.
Mohipur Trawler Owners' Association Secretary Nimai Chandra Das said they worry when there is a storm or cyclone in the Bay as their trawlers cannot take shelter in the harbour.
Nuru Mia, a driver of a fishing trawler, said it would be of great help to the fishing trawlers if the harbour is re-excavated.
Fish landing at Mohipur and Alipur would be much easier if the harbour's navigability is restored, said Mohipur Fish Traders' Association President Gazi Fazlur Rahman.