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Green Riverbeds Emerge as Rivers Die: Lucky for some, costly for many

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Mehedy Hasan, Rangpur

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Although deaths of rivers in Rangpur would ultimately leave a deep negative impact on agriculture and environment, the green riverbeds have become a major source of income, at least for now, for many poor people. PHOTO: STAR



All the rivers in the district including the Teesta, Dharla, Jamuneshwari, Karotoa, Chikli, Akhira and Ghaghat see serious fall in flow, badly affecting navigation, natural fish production and overall ecosystem in the area.

Various reasons including unilateral withdrawal of water in the upstream by neighbouring India and climatic changes have led to the situation while mindless encroachment on the riverbank and lack of proper dredging add to the problem.

However, a large number of landless people and small and marginal farmers living on the river basin and char (landmass emerged from riverbed) areas, are cultivating boro, wheat, maize, mustard, pulses, vegetables, groundnut, watermelon, tobacco and other crops on the dried-up riverbeds in eight upazilas under the district.

“As the land on the riverbed is very fertile, we are getting good yield by cultivating crops and vegetables here. It requires only a small investment including use of some organic fertilisers,” said Nowsha Mian, 65, a farmer of Gannarpar area beside the Teesta River in Gangachara upazila in the district.

Despite serving as a good earning source for many poor farmers, such large-scale cultivation on the riverbeds eventually leaves a negative impact on agriculture and environment, agriculturalists said.

Thousands of fishermen and boatmen in the district have become unemployed.
“With decline of water flow in the Teesta, many kinds of delicious fishes have already disappeared. Like me, many people had to leave fishing as only a very small amount of fishes are now found in the dried up river,” said Poran Mondal, 60, of Panjor Bhanga Char on the Teesta River in Kaunia upazila.

Porimol Chandra, 65, of char Bhuthnath in the same upazila said he sold his fishing boat about six years ago as the fish in the Teesta became too scanty.

As many chars appeared in the bed of the Teesta during the last two decades, most of the boatmen remain unemployed during the dry season, said Mosfer Ali, 52, a boatman of Char Bhuthnath.Md Latif, 50, a former bamboo trader of Dushmara Char village under Kaunia upazila said, “Once I used to transport a lot of bamboo on water from my village to Dhaka as the Teesta had sufficient flow throughout the year. But recently I have left the business as flow in the river remains unusually low for nine months a year. To earn a living, I have set up a small shop on the riverbank.”

Md Sekendar Ali, additional director of the Department of Agriculture Extension of Rangpur division, said, “Hundreds of shoals have appeared as a result of massive deposition of silts. The drying up of rivers continues alarmingly as a result of the adverse impacts of climatic changes, lifting of underground waters and many other reasons.”




Source: thedailystar 






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