Re-excavation goes in vain | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 12, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 12, 2020

Re-excavation goes in vain

Two Khulna rivers fill up within a year

The Bhadra and Shalta rivers in Khulna's Dumuria upazila have filled up in just one year after re-excavation that cost Tk 46.25 crore. Sever

However, the authorities blame silt from the upstream and cutting off the Teligati and Tiabunia embankments of Kharnia.

There is now little water left in the rivers. Soil kept on the banks after re-excavation was washed away by rainwater.

Locals said the rivers were vibrant even 15 years ago when many people depended on them for livelihood. The rivers also played an important role in economic development.

But a 30km stretch of Bhadra and Shalata were eventually filled with silt. As the rivers started to fill up, illegal encroachment began.

Influential people built houses, rice mills, saw mills, markets, multi-storey buildings and other structures by filling up the river.

This led to the permanent closure of the area's drainage system. Now even light rains trigger waterlogging, said locals.

According to Water Development Board (WDB) sources, a project worth Tk 76.25 crore was approved at the Ecnec meeting in September 2016 for dredging the two rivers. The project implementation period was set for 2018-2019 fiscal year. The works are implemented through tenders in nine packages.

Under the project, an 11.7km stretch from Dighalia to Dumuria Bazar in the southern part of Bhadra River and 9.8km stretch from Teligati to Dumuria Bazar in the northern part were excavated.

Besides, the Shalta River was connected to the Shailmari River by digging a 9km stretch.

'GONE TO WASTE'

Aminul Islam, a resident of Bamundia village, said soil removed from the rivers was kept on the banks but it was washed away by rainwater.

The project was supposed to build two sluice gates at Dighalia and Teligati at a cost of Tk 30 crore, but they were not constructed.

Mofizur Rahman, a resident of Shobhana village in Dumuria, said river water is not used for agricultural purposes as it is salty now.

"Money spent on dredging the river has gone to waste," he said. "And the real goal and purpose of river dredging has been ruined."

Mizanur Rahman, sub-divisional engineer of WDB in Khulna, said river dredging has become regular everywhere. The bill has been paid after all the verifications through the taskforce.

He insisted that the rivers filled up with silt due to severing of Teligati and Tiabunia embankments in Kharnia.  It remains unclear if the government plans to dredge the rivers again and reclaimed the encroached land as is being demanded by the locals.

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