Famous Bengali poet Jibonananda Das in one of his poems expressed his desire to return to the bank of Dhanshiri river for its beauty and attraction, but if that happens, he might not get the chance of standing on its bank, thanks to the mindless grabbing of the river.
Local people alleged that the grabbers have been able to successfully kill the river due to lack of proper maintenance by the authorities concerned, affecting the ecology and environment as well as livelihood of local people.
Thousands of people living on both sides of the river are either directly or indirectly dependent on it for various purposes, locals said.
The river was once the lifeblood for agriculture, fisheries and waterway communications in its surrounding areas.
“Fish species are under threat as the river brings huge indigenous fishes to hundreds of canals connected to it,” Deputy Director at Fisheries Department in Jhalakathi Pritish Kumar Mondal said.
“The river is the only route for naval communication between Rajapur upazila and Jhalakathi, and it must remain smooth for easy and safe transportation,” said Mohammad Azmal Huda, deputy director of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) (route) in Barisal division.
Farmer Akijur Rahman of Indrapasha village in Rajapur said due to the dried up state of the river hundreds of hectares of cropland remain unused for most of the year.
“Farmers cannot cultivate vast tracts of land on both sides of the river due to acute crisis of irrigation water,” DAE Officer in Rajapur Tilak Ghosh said.
Jhalakathi Deputy Director of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) Sheikh Abu Bakar Siddik said, “For local farmers the river is the main source of irrigation.”
Establishment of two government housing projects, Guchchhagram (cluster village) in 1988 and Ashrayon in 1999, on the bank of the Dhanshiri in Rajapur upazila is one of the major reasons behind the grabbing of the river, many local farmers alleged, adding that the people living in those housing projects are endlessly grabbing the river land.
Originating from Sugandha river in Jhalakathi Sadar upazila, the 8.6-kilometre-long river falls into the Jangalia river in Rajapur, Water Development Board (WDB) officials said.
“We have submitted a project proposal to the ministry concerned for re-excavation of the river and it may be approved by July this year,” Jhalakathi WDB Executive Engineer Syeed Ahamad Hossain.