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Palm wood boats keep Narail’s economy afloat

  • Published at 12:30 pm October 1st, 2018
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Depending on the demands and requirements of the buyers the price range of a boat varies from Tk1500 to Tk5000 in the market Dhaka Tribune

Tularam bazaar, near the Narail-Jessore road, is one of the biggest markets for palm wood boats, locally known as 'dungga'

Monsoon season has arrived and the need for boats has increased, especially in the areas located near rivers, canals and water beds. Wooden boats are a must-have for the locals.

All the canals and water beds in Narail are full, and the locals rely on “dungga,” also known as “koosha,” or palm wood boats, for transportation.  

Dunggas are used by the locals for carrying goods, transporting people, catching fish, plucking water lilies, and so on.

Omar, a five-year-old child, happily rows his “dungga” in the flowing canals of Mulia village. He does not have clothes to wear, but he is happy to bring his mother home across the canal. This is a daily occurrence at the Narail Beel area, where bamboo culverts are submerged.

Typical wooden boats need a certain level of water to float but dunggas can navigate on low water. As the boats are small in size and light-weight, people of all ages can easily use them.

Near the Narail-Jessore road, Tularam bazaar is one of the biggest markets for dungga boats. The market is open every Friday and Monday of the week. This all starts at the very beginning of the monsoon season, June, and continues till late September.

Depending on the demands and requirements of the buyers, the price range of a boat varies from Tk1,500 to Tk5,000.

Around 40-50 dunggas are sold every day.

People from the surrounding villages all come to Tularam bazaar to buy dunggas as these are very efficient, low-cost and low-maintenance boats.

Rakib Molla, a resident of Jessore, came to Tularam bazaar to buy a dungga. He said: “One cannot use regular wooden boats every month of the year. Dunggas can be easily operated on low water levels – thus making them an ideal form of transportation.”

Selim, who is a dungga seller from Shalikha village, explains: “Each of the palm trees are bought for Tk1,200 to Tk3,000. Three people working for one day can only build two dunggas. Tk3,000 is the profit we get after paying all the expenses.”

Hundreds of seasonal businessmen of Chachuri, Tularampur, Dighliya and other nearby areas earn their living by selling dunggas.

Made of local material, with native technology, these palm wood boats are a part of the heritage and culture of Bangladesh. According to local cultural researchers and enthusiasts, the production and use of dunggas needs to be preserved.

However, according to locals, due to a reducing water level in the canals and rivers, use of dunggas is slowly decreasing. The locals demand government involvement to ensure proper water flow in the canals and rivers so they can continue using the dunggas.