All the public money, Tk 12 crore to be specific, spent by the Water Development Board (WDB) to excavate 31.5 kilometres of the Buri Teesta river in Kurigram recently, is turning out to be useless.
The excavation was done to revive the natural flow of the river that runs by the upazila town of Ulipur in Kurigram. But thanks to indiscriminate dumping of garbage by the Ulipur municipality, the river is getting constricted again.
The pollution has degraded the water quality of the river, especially near Gunaigachh bridge, so immensely that aquatic life in the river is disappearing. The air in the area has also become quite difficult to breathe due to the emission of foul odour from the decomposing garbage there.
Khokon Roy, a businessman from the area, said the overpowering stench has become unbearable for locals, but the workers of the municipality continue to dump garbage at the location every day.
All the town's garbage being dumped into the Buri Teesta is not only obstructing the river's natural flow and emitting foul smell, but also polluting its water to such an extent that it is no longer safe for consumption, said Khairul Islam, another local businessman.
Expressing similar concerns, Ekramul Haque, a passerby, said it is almost impossible to walk by the Gunaigachh bridge without pressing one's nose and the authorities of Ulipur municipality are to blame for the situation.
The recent excavation of the Buri Teesta river was carried out in response to people's demands made on numerous occasions. But unfortunately, the river is going back to its former state due to the dumping of garbage by the municipality, said Umme Habiba Poly, head teacher of Ulipur Government Model Primary School.
It is now impossible even to take a walk beside the river without pressing one's nose, let alone bathing in its water, she said frustratingly.
Ariful Islam, executive engineer of WDB in Kurigram, said it is unfortunate that the water of the river is getting polluted and its flow getting obstructed again despite the excavation work done in the river recently, at a cost of Tk 12 crore.
The WDB would write to the mayor of Ulipur municipality, urging him to take steps against dumping of waste in the Buri Teesta river, he added.
Ulipur Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Abdul Quader said after his office issued several warnings against the Ulipur municipal authorities for polluting the river, they promised that they would stop the act.
The UNO added that they would issue warnings against the municipality again, for the sake of saving the river and the overall environment.
However, Mayor Tariq Abu Ala of Ulipur municipality refuted the allegation and claimed that they dumped some waste in the river near Gunaigachh bridge only to protect the bridge.
Contacted, local Awami League Lawmaker MA Matin said although he had personally warned the Ulipur municipality authorities more than once, they continue to pollute and obstruct the natural flow of the Buri Teesta river by dumping garbage in it.
He assured that he would take all necessary steps to protect the river from destruction.