The lake provides for the livelihood of 10,000 fishermen in the area
No dredging initiatives in the past 59 years have been taken to ensure the navigability of the country's largest artificial lake, Kaptai Lake, in Rangamati.
It is slowly losing its navigability as water levels at the lake are ever-decreasing; for which sediment islands are being formed throughout the lake and every year the situation worsens.
The creation of the 725 square kilometre lake was due to the establishment of Kaptai Hydroelectric Power Plant, in 1960, and ever since, it has been the source and medium for economic, transportation, and tourism-related activities for the local people.
The lake also provides for the livelihood of more than 10,000 fishermen of the area, plus fish and aquatic creatures.
Due to the intense sedimentation over the years, water levels of the lake have dropped abnormally.
The present lack of rainfall has added to the list of problems and due to which several sediment islands have formed in the: Baghaichari, Longdu, Kattoli, Barkal Kaptai, and Rangamati Sadar areas of the lake.
Additionally, the lake is the only medium of transport for the people the region as it connects six upazilas of the district.
Addressing the present crisis, eminent social worker and Rangamati Udichi President and Amalendu Howlader said: "A lack of dredging in Kaptai Lake has resulted in great suffering for the people of this region. The lake is being filled with waste materials from the city and it is polluting the water to a great extent.
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"Different forums and platforms discuss the importance of dredging to save Kaptai Lake but the lack of awareness among the local people is responsible for the lake's continuous pollution. The authorities concerned have to take swift action to start dredging as soon as possible."
He said that the dredging requirements of different times have been discussed in different forums; and arrangements should be made, without delay, to dredge the lake.
Echoing the concerns, Moniruzzaman Mohsin Rana, member of Kaptai Lake Management Committee, said: "Kaptai Lake is losing its navigability due to a lack of dredging.
"It has been a year that the committee met regarding this issue. We all have to sit together in order to take immediate action so that the lake is saved as soon as possible."
When contacted, Moinuddin Selim, chairman (passenger transportation) of Rangamati Zone Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) said: "As the water level of Kaptai Lake is decreasing, launch services among the six upazila the lake connects, have been halted from April 22.
"As a result, we, who are involved in this launch business, are going through a very bad phase."
Addressing the issue Rangamati District Commissioner AKM Mamunur Rashid said: "The Water Development Board has instructed BIWTA to ensure navigability of the Kaptai Lake with dredging programs. They recently have surveyed different areas of the lake.
"Dredging will start very soon."