At least 1,000 acres of arable land in Doulatpur union under Dinajpur’s Phulbari upazila has remained unused for the last two years due to waterlogging as influential people blocked the passage of eight culverts after digging ponds for fish farming in the adjacent spots.
The land owners, 500 farmers of 10 villages including Amrobari, Moheshpur, Purbo Moheshpur, Mohadipur, Baraipara, Lalpur, Narayanpur, Kismat Lalpur and Garpinglai used to produce paddy there, said locals.
But, in early 2018, the influential locals excavated nine big ponds for fish farming, and blocked the passage of eight culverts for safety of the ponds.
The callous act led to persistent waterlogging on 1,000 acres of land, said local farmers during this correspondent’s visit to the spot a couple of days ago.
Shahdul Haque, a farmer of Moheshpur village, said his four acres of land remained underwater since the water flow was blocked two years ago.
“Earlier I got 450 maunds of paddy from the land in two paddy seasons every year, but, I could not cultivate the land in last two years,” he said.
Similarly, five acres of land of Younus Ali and 2.5 acres of land of Sajibul Islam remained under water, affecting their earning from paddy production.
“I have switched to another profession to feed my family,” said Sajibul.
As the waterlogging affected the vast lands due to blocking of the eight culverts, the affected farmers sought intervention of the local administration for a solution, but to no result, said Md Mozaffar Hossain Chowdhury, former chairman of Khayerbari Union Parishad in Phulbari upazila.
Shams Sumon Mishuk, who blocked a culvert adjacent to his fish pond, said, “I did not do it alone, eight other men did the same. The stagnant water will be released if the government authorities build a canal there.”
If the local administration takes immediate steps to open the culverts to restore the normal water flow, the affected farmers will be able to resume paddy cultivation from this Boro season, said Harun Ur Rashid, a farmer of Baraipara village.
Contacted, Md Mahmudul Alam, deputy commissioner of Dinajpur, said, “After learning about the matter recently, I visited the spot and asked the upazila nirbahi officer [UNO] of Phulbari to take action to solve the problem.”
The UNO, Abdus Salam Chowdhury, who went abroad on January 10, is yet to return, upazila administration sources said.