Mighty Brahmaputra, its tribu­taries getting extine

Massive siltation, lack of dredging main causes

r(m)- BrahmaputraThe massive siltation has threatened the existence of the river Brahmaputra. The 2947-kilometer long river streaming through Dibrugarh, Guhati and Meghalaya of India entered into Bangladesh from the western side of the Garo Hills. Flowing through Dewanganj Nalitabari, Jamalpur town and Mymensingh the river meets with the rever Meghna near Bhairab Bazar in Kishoreganj district. The mighty river Brahmaputra is gradually being turned in to a canal. The river can not carry much water due to massive silta­tion and gradually losing its depth and changing the course. The river once the blessings for the district providing communi­cation fishing and irrigation facili­ties are now drying up. Navigation which was once a common sight with colourful sails of boats is now a matter of reminiscence. People who have been living beside the river are facing difficul­ties as the vast tract of land re­mains uncultivated every year for lack of irrigation water. The fish­ermen living beside the river are also facing the same fate. The traders who used to ferry goods by boats now carry goods by trucks.

People cross the Brahmaputra on foot now-a-days. A brisk busi­ness is being carried out by digging sand at many points of the river and dumping those on the bank for sale. Thousands of shoals have ap­peared in the river bed and the farmers now grow paddy, wheat, groundnut, pulses and potato on the bank. Abdul Khaleque a day labourer of Dhaka village under Trishal up­azila said that he along with his colleagues come down to the Brahmaputra near Dhala High School every day to dig sand which provides them means of living. He earns Tk 80 to 100 a day, he said. All along Bidyaganj, Mymensingh town, Sutiakhali Fatema Nagar, Awlia Nagar, Dhala and Gafargaon Bazar the Brahmaputra is being dried up due to emerging shoals.

Lifting his hand from the knee deep water of the river near Kalir Bazar area Golzar Hossain a local farmer said we do not blame any one for misfortune of having no water in the river Brahmaputra. In reply to a question on the drying up of the river Brahmaputra an Engineer of local Water Development Board (WDB) said that the Seventeenth century earphquake has caused this river to suffer a major charge. Centuries ago the river was flowing through Bahadurabad ghat as Jamuna-Brahmaputra. There were torrential stream. But due to severe earthquake its course had been diverted and it ran through Mymensingh. Many marshes oxbow lakes and canals have been formed due to earthquake. Besides, due to cre­ation of several barrages in its up­per streams the natural flow of water has been interrupted

There is a tremendous siltation all along the length of the river and dredging of the river is very expensive, said the WDB Engineer. Dredging at this stage can not bring any fortune, added the Engineer. Agriculture has been seriously affected in the entire region. Under ground water level has been decreasing. Within a couple of years the river may not exist any more, experts viewed. During the Pakistan period there were water treaties with India including Brahmaputra Multipurpose Barrage Project. The treaties include irrigation, water control and hydro-electricity of this country. Many programmes were initi­ated during the Post-liberation period. Many meetings amongst the technical committees of both the countries had been arranged. Efforts were made to revive the old contract. But no effective measures were taken in case of the Brahmaputra.

n 1977 a bilateral water devel­opment treaty was signed with India. It was said in the agreement that Bangladesh will get 34,500 cusecs of water during its lean pe­riod. After 1988 the treaty agreement disappeared, Initiatives were taken on behalf of Bangladesh, but the Indian side showed no interest (The Bangladesh Observer, February 27, 2005).


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