The canals flowing through different areas in Tangail town are disappearing one after another, thanks to the illegal grabbing and negligence by the authorities.
As a result, the environment and biodiversity are under serious threat in one side and on the other hand, many important roads of the municipality remain submerged under water after moderate rain. Bad odour also spreads from the dirty stagnant water, causing public nuisances.
According to officials of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) in Tangail, there were total 27 canals flowing through different places at 18 wards in the municipal area only three decades ago.
Of them, three have already disappeared fully while the rest 24 others are on the verge of extinction as land grabbers continue to fill up the water bodies with garbage.
Of the disappeared canals, one had flown from Belkuchi road to the house of Jalal Pandit at Kaghmara and Akur Takur moujas in 3 No ward, another from Berabuchona Water Tank area to the Louhajang river at Kandapara in Kachuadanga and Berabuchona moujas in 11 No ward and the rest from Sabalia Battala to Sadar Hospital via Kodalia at Sabalia and Kodalia moujas in 18 No ward.
The Sabalia canal flowing beside the Baitun Noor mosque at Mymensingh road via Sabalia Panjapara and Sabalia Battala was connected to the Bairan river. Local influential people first fill up the canal by dumping wastes and grabbed it then. Later, they constructed houses and other structures including high-rise buildings there.
Goutam Chandra Chanda, senior research officer of Bela, said not only the drainage system but also the environment and biodiversity in the town are at stake because of destruction of the canals.
On the other hand, the Victoria canal, previously known as Shaym Babur Khal, which had flown through the middle of the town, was the most important for the drainage system in the town. However, the then municipality authorities turned the canal into a drain two decades ago. Later, they constructed several markets on the drain, narrowing down the Victoria Road, the main street in the district town.
Masum Ferdous, a poet and writer in Tangail, said merchants from different district who entered Tangail through the Louhajang river carried different goods from the town through the canal (Shaym Babur Khal) with big boats.
Abdur Rahim Miah, a resident of Kachuadanga area, said they had gone to the Karatia market through the Kachuadanga Berabuchona canal with boats carrying paddy, jute and other goods only four decades ago.
"Now there is no existence of the canal. Influential people filled it up and then constructed dwelling houses and other structures," said Rahim.
Hasem Miah, a resident of Berabuchona area, said a canal in the area is losing its existence day by day due to mindless grabbing.
Despite repeated pleas, the authorities concerned are yet to take any steps to recover the canal, he alleged.
Ratan Ahmed Siddique, general secretary of Tangail River, Canal, Water bodies and Environment Protection Movement Committee, said the canals' lands have been being filled up and occupied with the help of public representatives for long period.
The canals should be recovered for restoring the drainage system and protecting environment in the century-old municipality town, he added.
Contacted, Sirajul Islam, executive engineer of Water Development Board in Tangail, said the local administration is the ultimate authority to recover the canals.
Dr Ataul Gani, deputy commissioner in Tangail, said they will take initiative to recover the canals one after another after survey.