Posted on July 12, 2022
The once vibrant Kaliganga river in Manikganj appears to be almost dead at places and local environmental activists blame illegal encroachment and absence of dredging for it.
Except in the rainy season, the river’s water level remains extremely low throughout the year, causing locals, including farmers, to suffer.
During a visit last week, this correspondent saw several char emerged from the river, which mixes with the Jamuna in the district’s Daulatpur and the Buriganga in Dhaka’s Nawabganj.
Children were seen playing cricket, and farmers cultivating crops and grazing cattle on the chars in Manikganj Sadar’s Beauth, Banduti, Pouli areas, Ghior upazila’s Tora Ghat, Jabra areas, and Singair upazila’s Jamsa area.
These were the places where big boats and launches used to ply in the 1960s, said locals.
The river is originally 78km long and 242 metres in width, said officials of Manikganj Water Development Board.
But now, numerous chars have appeared across the river.
Speaking to The Daily Star, 80-year-old Sufia Begum from Tora village in Ghior said once the river flowed beside her home, but now she needs to walk for at least 15 minutes to take a bath there. “All the ponds in our area have also dried up.”
Sixty-five-year old farmer Abdul Mazid, another local, said they face a severe crisis of water for irrigation.
Talking on the issue, Nazrul Islam, a member of Bangladesh Nodi Bachao Andolan (Save the River Movement, Bangladesh), said farmers in the area lacked water for growing crops.
He said the river was its death throes in places due to mindless grabbing by sand filling by some influential quarters.
It has continued to happen for years right under the nose of the administration, said Nazrul, also general secretary of Bangladesh Krishak Samity.
He also said the river needs to be dredged at places to ensure proper water flow round the year. Otherwise, people and the environment would continue to suffer.
Contacted, Main Uddin, executive engineer of WDB in Manikganj, said river dredging began in many rivers in the district.
“The government has taken an initiative to dig the rivers to restore their original water flow. It also has plans to restore the Kaliganga’s water flow,” he said.
Asked about the encroachment, he said steps would be taken against the grabbers to save the river.