Once marauding river Tangon has now turned into a shadow of itself, for nothing other than unplanned excavation of canals which were supposed to feed the increasing farming activity in the district.
The authorities of Thakurgaon town, built on the bank of the Tangon River, also share some responsibility for huge waste dumping into the river.
The story is similar to other rivers including Shuk, Nagar, Dhepa, Nahna, Bhulli, Tirnai, Lachhi, Chandana, Kulik, Pathraj and Senua that flow across different parts of the district, some of them trans-boundary.
Originated in West Bengal state of India, the Tangon marauds around the Bangladesh-India border as it trespasses the state boundaries thrice, crossing on the way Thakurgaon, Rangpur and Dinajpur before meeting the Punarbhaba River in Naogaon district.
The air around the river gives a pungent smell of wastes covering the water surface, said Abdul Mazid Mukul of Munshipara area in Thakurgaon town.
All the hotels and other business establishments dispose their waste into the river, he alleged.
Even during the rains, farmers are not getting enough waterflow for the retting of jute.
The fishes have depleted throughout the entire course and almost vanished in some places that give way seedbeds for paddy cultivation.
It is not only the Tangon that has lost its veracity for the unplanned excavation of canals along the beels (wetlands) that had been used as storage of water for the river during the dry season, the same factor is working behind the depletion of water of two other big rivers – Nagar and Kuliki – in the district, M Inamul Haque, chairman of the Institute of Water and Environment, told the Dhaka Tribune.
Over-drainage of water from the beel areas has led to a boost in crops cultivation, but at the same time the rivers are deprived of their due shares, he explained, adding that most of such excavation is sponsored by the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) itself.
Then comes the Revenue Department which has an overtly liberal approach to lease out khas lands (land in government custody including those falling under rivers, canals and wetlands) to the locals for agricultural uses, added Inamul, also a former director general of the Water Resource Planning Organisation (Warpo).
The river system in Thakurgaon and Nilphamari districts used to feed on the Teesta and the Mahananda rivers in the past, but this umbilical cord has been delinked over the passage of time for both anthropogenic and geological events.
Barrages built on these two major rivers in the Indian side is contributing a lot to this delinking while the gradual shift of the Teesta towards its left bank has been a factor silently playing a part, noted Sheikh Rokon, general secretary of Riverine People, a collective of river protection activists.
“The Tangon Barrage in Panchagarh has some of its functionality, and the river both on the upstream and the downstream of the barrage has been silted. I think this is a major cause behind the degradation of the Tangon River,” he said.