According to the farmers, they will not be able to cultivate Aman this year in the now salty waterbodies
Farmers in Sadar upazila of Satkhira harvested wetlands paddy in a festive mood even last year. This year, they are struggling to remove saline water from their paddy fields, let alone harvest crops.
Farmers in 37 villages are full of fear. Shrimp farmers flooded nine water bodies in the upazila with saline water and this is going to take its toll on Aman farmers this season.
Local farmers say some influential people opened up the Amodkhali sluicegates on the Betna River and allowed saline water to pour into the waterbodies.
This was done with an aim to profit from shrimp farming in Buramara, Palichand, Dhepur Beel, Chelar Beel, Jordiar Beel, Khoriler Beel, and other adjoining waterbodies.
On a visit to the area, this correspondent found farmers worried about the salinity of the large water bodies which realistically cannot be drained, nor is there a proper drainage system.
Local farmers say the Moricchap River has dried up and turned into a canal while the Betna River is also dying, making draining the saline water from the water bodies very difficult.
According to the farmers, they will not be able to cultivate Aman this year in the now salty waterbodies.
Contacted, Fingri UP Chairman Shamsur Rahman said: "I allowed saline water to pour into the waterbodies in order to create an artificial tide in the river and facilitate shrimp farming."
The saline water will dissipate once heavy monsoon rains flush it out, the chairman said.
When asked about getting the proper permission from the Water Development Board in this regard, Shamsur did not comment.
Executive Engineer of Satkhira Water Development Board, Arifuzzaman, said: "Shrimp farm owners allowed saline water to enter the wetlands during the Eid vacations."
He said the paddy farmers should have informed him when they saw the shrimp farmers opening the sluicegates.
"Thousands of farmers cannot suffer, just because a handful of shrimp farmers are keen on making a profit. The gates will be closed and action will be taken against those responsible for it," he said.