A group of fishermen who have been fishing in the waterbody of Gohala river at Shahzadpur upazila in Sirajganj for generations has alleged that they are not able to fish in the river as a section of non-professional fishermen backed by the influential quarter is fishing there ousting them.
Fishermen belonging to Ramakantapur Fishermen Cooperative Society alleged that they have not been able to catch fish in the waterbody for the last four years, which is the only source of their income.
Deprived fishermen of Ramkantapur Fishermen Cooperative Society, however, submitted application to local administration for getting lease of the waterbody.
Officials of the Fisheries Department claimed that the dispute between the two groups of fishermen is causing the trouble.
Kartik Haldar, secretary of Ramkantapur Fishermen Cooperative Society, said that the fishermen belonging to this registered organisation have been catching fish from the waterbody since the establishment of the organisation in 1972 and they continued to do so till 2017 (Bangla 1423).
Later, the waterbody was leased to a Rautara Boropara Fishermen Association, an organisation of non-professional fishermen, for 1424 to 1426 Bangla year depriving the real fishermen in the village, he alleged.
"Backed by influential ruling party men, a group of non-professional fishermen took possession of the waterbody while the real fishermen in the village have been deprived of the opportunity to catch fish in the waterbody," Kartik also said.
Ramkantapur Fishermen Cooperative Society repeatedly submitted application to the local administration for getting lease of the water body for 1427 to 1429 Bangla year while two other organisations also submitted the same applications but nobody was given the lease. The real fishermen are being barred from catching fish in the waterbody by the influential people, said, Uttam Kumar Haldar of the cooperative society.
"Over five hundred people of the fishermen families are dependent on Gohala river, they are living in hardship due to lack of work," Uttam Haldar also said.
Md Shahed Ali, Sirajganj district fishery officer said that there is a long-standing dispute among the fishermen community for taking possession of the waterbody in the village.
"Giving lease of the water body is an administrative decision in which the local fishery office has nothing to do in this regard," Shahed Ali said.
The waterbody sprawling over 214.36 acre of Gohala river is the source of many local varieties of fishes where the Department of Fishery has set a safe haven for fish farming.
While visiting the area recently, this correspondent, however, found most of the fishing boats in the area were kept stranded while a few people were found catching fish from the waterbody but most of them were not locals.