Canals grabbed for fish farming
A local influential ruling party leader has grabbed two canals in Morrelganj upazila and has been fish farming there obstructing the natural water flow.
Moreover, people on both sides of the two canals are not being allowed to catch fish or use the water.
Arif Mallik, general secretary of Daibaggahati union unit Jubo League, has grabbed parts of Badiarjan and Petnikhali canals, depriving farmers of irrigation water too.
Locals said they have submitted written complaints to the District Commissioner's (DC) Office on several occasions to free the two canals from illegal occupation, but the canals have not been recovered.
Petnikhali and Badiarjan canals flow through Ghazirghat, Mitradanga, Hamchapur and Chapari areas and unite with Herma, one of the largest canals in Morrelganj.
Arif has set up current nets and fences on about one and a half kilometres of the two canals, stretching from Gazirghat to Uttarghazi Government Primary School. He is using parts as fish enclosures.
Due to disruption of the water flow, paddy cultivation on hundreds of bighas of land has been affected.
The fencing has been causing flooding too.
Bagerhat DC Office sources said Mohammad Azhar Ali Sheikh, a retired primary schoolteacher, had submitted letters on April 24, June 15 and July 6 this year to free the two canals from illegal occupations.
But noting has been done so far.
Bagerhat DC Mohammad Azizur Rahman said after investigation necessary steps will be taken soon.
Farmer Nizam Sheikh of Mitradanga area said Mozahar Mallik and his son Arif had been farming fish, occupying Petnikhali and Badiarjan canals, for long and no one dares to protest it.
A number of locals, seeking anonymity, said earlier many villagers used to catch fish in the two canals for livelihood, but they cannot go to the canals now.
They demanded that the canals be freed for the villagers.
Complainant Azahar Ali said he has appealed to the district administration thrice to free the two canals.
Contacted, Arif Mallik said he was not the only person who was fish farming in government canals. Many others were also involved.