Thousands of acres of paddy, jute, and taro among all kinds of seasonal crops have been submerged and therefore hundreds of farmers stand to lose everything if the Chatar Canal is not soon freed from illegal occupation
Over the years, local influential people have slowly encroached the banks of the Chatar Canal in Meherpur, leading thousands of acres of arable lands to go underwater during monsoon rains in Dariapur and Gourinagar under Mujibnagar upazila.
Brick fields, shops, and a number of other illegal structures have sprung up on the canal banks hampering the natural water drainage system much necessary during the rainy season.
Local farmers say unless the government promptly takes action to free the canal from the grips of swarming encroachers and restores the natural water flow by dredging, future crop production in the region will suffer a great deal.
Meanwhile, the brick field owners concerned claim that they will relinquish the possession of the illegally acquired lands upon receiving official orders.
Abdul Majid, local land surveyor of Dariapur union, said: “Arable lands stretching 35 sqkm in Dariapur are used to cultivate crops three times a year, and in order for that to happen water from the Naga Beel adjacent to the lands needs to properly drain during the rainy season.
“But due to rampant encroachment on the Chatar Canal, water now overflows the beel and floods the croplands,” he added.
Some farmers working in the fields including Harun, Kabir, Kalam and Kashem said thousands of acres of paddy, jute, and taro among all kinds of seasonal crops have been submerged and therefore hundreds of farmers stand to lose everything if the Chatar Canal is not soon freed from illegal occupation.
Meanwhile, Lincoln, owner of Mukut Bricks Field on the banks of Chatar Canal, said the 1km stretch of the canal east of the Meherpur-Mujibnagar road is now filled up where a number of illegal structures have sprung up. “If the government sends us an eviction notice we will certainly comply.”
Dariapur Union Council Chairman Towfiqul Bari said: “After the canal is freed from encroachers, only dredging it will not solve the waterlogging problem in the village. This is because we have often seen in the past that, during the rainy season, the water from the Bhairab River travels back to the canal and floods the whole village. Therefore, the canal needs a sluice-gate that will protect the villagers’ thousands of acres of crops.”
Mujibnagar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Sujon Sarkar said officials from the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), and union council have already visited the area under the directive from the Public Administration Ministry.
“Maintenance work on the canal will soon begin after it is freed from its encroachers. If necessary a sluice-gate will be constructed to effectively control water flow in the canal.”