Posted on April 4, 2017
The Gorai River Restoration Project (Phase-II), initiated in 2009, has failed to restore the natural flow of the river and its ecosystem due to its unplanned dredging and ‘graft’.
The Tk 930-crore project is scheduled to be completed by 2017, but the Gorai dried up at the onset of the last dry season even after seven years of dredging since many chars (shoals) have emerged on its beds, disrupting its flow.
During a recent visit to the Gorai River, the UNB district correspondent found that the natural flow of the river has declined significantly from its off-take Talbaria point to Chapra of Kumarkhali.
Almost the entire river turned into a char as an insignificant volume of water is now there in its holes here and there. Local people now can walk across the river as there is no water at its many points.
In 1996, the then Awami League government took the Gorai River Restoration Project (Phase-I) involving Tk 420 crore aiming to restore the river, but the project failed to yield any positive results.
In 2009, the government again took the Gorai River Restoration Project (Phase-II), aiming to prevent environmental degradations in the South western region by ensuring fresh water flow during the rainy season and augmenting the flow during the dry season as well.
Experts say although the Gorai River is being dredged over the last seven years, local people are yet to get any benefit from it due to unplanned dredging and widespread corruption in the project.
Without ensuring adequate water flow in the Padma River during the dry season, they said, the dredging in the Gorai River will not bring any desired result.
Karam Ali, a resident of Talbaria area, said the ‘dredged sand’ is deposited on the riverbanks which pour into the river again with rainwater during monsoon, filling up the riverbeds.
Kushtia Zila Awami League general secretary Asgar Ali said the government, led by prime minister Sheikh Hasina, took the project to revive the Gorai River, but the project is going to fall flat due to corruption and irregularities.
He demanded the authorities concerned bring the people involved in the graft in the project to justice.
Local river researcher Alauddin Ahmed said the Gorai restoration project was taken with a good aim to ensure the adequate flow in the country’s southwestern rivers, including those in the Sundarbans, to prevent salinity during dry season, but there is ‘no water’ in the Gorai despite dredging.
Executive engineer of Bangladesh Water Development Board (Kushtia) Jahedul Islam claimed that the Gorai River Restoration Project (Phase-II) will be completed by this year, and the water flow in the river will increase once the project is completed.
In 1975, India constructed a barrage across the Ganges River at Farakka in West Bengal to divert 40,000 cusec of water into Bhagirathi-Hoogli River to improve the navigability of Calcutta Port.
According to official sources, this has considerably decreased the discharge of the Ganges, known as Padma in Bangladesh, and Gorai in Bangladesh part. As an impact of Farakka, the off-take points of the Gorai used to be silted up during the lean period and water from the Ganges to Gorai cannot flow due to this blockade.
As a result, fresh water flow through Gorai-Rupsha-Passur River System gradually decreases and upward intrusion of saline water from the Bay of Bengal increases due to tidal effects.
Source: Prothom Alo