About Tk 114 crore was spent only last year to excavate a 80-kilometre stretch of Nilphamari's second largest river Charalkantha. But most of the excavated earth, piled up on its side, has already made it back to the river and shrunk it to a mere channel at most places.
Locals are now cultivating paddy on large patches of the filled up river that is also known as Dewnai or Jamuneshwari.
The river is now constricted by washed down earth that had been piled up on its bank and its bed is silted up again -- thanks to unplanned and*-unmanaged dumping of the excavated earth by the BWDB, alleged locals.
Nilphamari and Saidpur Divisions of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) conducted the work last fiscal year as part of a government programme undertaken to improve navigability of different water bodies including rivers and canals in 64 districts across the country.
The massive work, however, has been a waste of time and money as thousands of inhabitants living alongside the river will not be able to reap its intended benefit, said locals.
This correspondent witnessed the destruction of the Charalkantha river during a recent visit to Ambari, Bamunia, Horishchandrapat, Baromashi Ghat, Laxmichap, Bamunia Barobisha, Kachukata, Beradanga, Kalikapur, Beltoli and Bahagli villages in Sadar, Jaldhaka and Kishorganj upazilas.
Azizul Huq, resident of Horishchandrapat village, said one side of the river near his house is now facing erosion as the excavated earth and sand had been dumped only on the other side.
The loose earth and sand, dumped on the riverbank, washed back in the river during rain, as proper compaction measures were not taken during the work, said Sagar Roy, from Bamunia Barobisha village and a former member of the local union parishad.
Farmer Abul Hossain, from Baromashi Ghat village, said privately-owned agricultural land along the riverbank was also damaged by the excavated earth.
Contacted, Aminur Rahman, sub-divisional engineer in Nilphamari Division of BWDB, claimed that only 10 percent of the project area had suffered refilling of the river with the excavated earth.
Admitting that the river bed has silted up again, BWDB's Executive Engineer in Saidpur Division Krishna Kamol Chandra Sarker blamed it on "last year's devastating flood".