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Buri Teesta River Dying

Posted on April 4, 2017

By Abdul Wahed, The Daily Star

People in Ulipur upazila of the district are suffering as the Buri Teesta river is drying up due to earth filling at a place where a sluice gate collapsed in 1988.

The Buri Teesta originates from the Teesta river at Arjun village and joins the Brahmaputra river at Kachkol village under Chilmari upazila.

Flow of water in the 30-km-long river through Ulipur municipality area used to be controlled through two regulators (sluice gates) of Water Development Board (WDB) at Arjun and Kachkol villages.

WDB stopped flow of water by filling earth when the sluice gate at Arjun village collapsed during the flood in 1988. From then, the branch river started losing its depth and water-carrying capacity, and is almost dead now.

Freedom fighter Abu Bakar Siddik, 70, of Khearpar village, said, “Water would flow freely in the Buri Teesta about 20 years ago. Before liberation, the people of Roumari and Rajibpur upazilas would come to Ulipur Bazar for marketing and transporting all kinds of goods by boat. Boat races were held every year, and there were plenty of fish in the river.”

“Due to lack of flow, the river got filled up slowly with silt coming from upstream during the rainy season. Some people have constructed houses by raising the riverbed. Vast tracts of crops get damaged during flood or heavy downpour,” Abu Bakar said.

“Dredging of the Buri Teesta and construction of the sluice gate are needed to save the ecology and produce crops by reviving the water flow,” he added.

Abdul Aziz, 65, of Jotdarpara village, said, “I would cultivate jute and get it rotten in the river, but I cannot do it now. The riverbed was dredged for irrigation by the government about 37 years ago. It is still possible to revive the river if it is dredged again.”

Parimol Majumdar, an activist of ‘Save Buri Teesta-save Ulipur’ movement, said, “We are agitating against grabbing of the Buri Teesta. We also want dredging of the river and reconstruction of the sluice gate.”

“We have formed human chains and held bicycle rallies in Ulipur to demand restoration of flow of water in the Buri Teesta, and submitted a memorandum to the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO),” Porimol said.

Executive Engineer of WDB in Kurigram Shafiqul Islam, said, “Digging of ditches and construction of embankments in different districts will be started this year. An eight kilometre area in Kurigram has already been taken under the project. Besides, a separate project for the Buri Teesta will be placed to the higher authorities. If the local lawmaker assists me, the project may be approved quickly.”

UNO Shafiqul Islam said, “I have received a letter on the Buri Teesta from the villagers and have taken some steps. I have asked the assistant commissioner (land) to mark the area of Buri Teesta according to CS and SA land records. The meeting of Kurigram district river protection committee under the National River Protection Commission has taken a decision on the Buri Teesta and requested the local WDB authority to look into it as there are some lands of the WDB there.”

“We will take steps against the land grabbers in the Buri Teesta after marking the river area,” the UNO said.

Source: The Daily Star

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