100 influential people control 331 jalmahals

Published : 20 Feb 2022 07:48 PM

The Jalmahals of the district including the haors of Kishoreganj are controlled by a class of middle class influential people. Despite not being real fishermen, influential people are using their names under the banner of Fisheries Cooperative Society to take control of the water bodies and deprive innocent fishermen of their right to fish.

Even in open water and floating water, real fishermen are not able to catch fish. As a result, the real fishing community is being deprived of their rights.

The fishermen complained that they could not fishing in the face of the influential people identified in the area when they went to fishing in the water floating on their stomachs. Because they were taken hostage by the influential forces. In addition, the family members of the fishermen are currently living inhumane conditions as the officially listed fishermen are not able to fish freely in the open water. Many are being forced to leave their jobs and move elsewhere.

According to the revenue department of the district administration, there are 179 jalmahals above 20 acres and 152 under 20 acres in Haor of Kishoreganj. In accordance with the government rules and regulations, tenders were called from the Deputy Commissioner's Office in the name of Fishermen's Cooperative Society and more than 20 acres of jalmahals were leased for 3 and 5 years. Jalmahals of less than 20 acres are leased from the UpazilaParishad. This process is being leased every year.

According to the investigation, following the government rules and regulations, these Jalmahal Fishermen's Cooperative Societies are being leased in the name of open tender. But behind every leased fishermen's co-operative society there is an influential middle class. Because most of the jalmahalshave to invest a few lakh taka to get a lease.Which the real fishermen cannot afford. Taking advantage of this opportunity, the rich fishermen lease out the jalmahals in the name of the real fishermen's association. The lion's share of the proceeds from the sale of fish from Jalmahal was taken by these rich influential people in their unwritten terms with the real fishermen. Real fishermen get as little money as possible. As a result, even though the government's policy of 'whose net is its net' is in force, the real fishermen are being deprived of the benefits of this policy and are disappearing. Frustrated, they are forced to give up his ancestral profession.

It is learned that when the fishermen went to fish in the floating water in Chhatirchar of NikliUpazila, the influential middle-class terrorists have been threatening to kill the fishermen at different times by beating the fishermen, looting nets and boats and demanding large sums of money. As a result, they do not dare to go to the river and floating water for fear. Some leaseholders are occupying 50 acres with a lease of 20 acres. They are continuing this immoral work by managing the administration and the police. As a result, fishermen are leaving the ancestral profession of their fathers and taking up another profession.

According to the District Fisheries Officer's Office, there are 128 canals with an area of 453.74 hectares, 52 rivers with an area of 13,612.85 hectares, 241 beels with an area of 13,485.46 hectares and 48haor of 40,810.14 hectares. In the evolution of time, fish producing rivers, canals, beels are all now included in Jalmahal.

Sources further said that 72,960 metric tons of fish was produced in the entire district in the last financial year. The demand for fish in the district is 66,328 metric tons. There is a surplus of 6,631.64 metric tons. Kishoreganj fish is in great demand as freshwater fish. Most of the fish produced is exported abroad including big cities.

According to several agencies working in the field of fisheries, including the district revenue department, the government receives a total of Tk 12crore, from jalmahals of more than 20 acres in the district and a total of Tk 14 crore, including Tk 2 crore for leasing of small water mahals. Fish worth Tk 218.88crore is available from these jalmahals.

According to some people who work with the fishermen, these influential people who are middlemen with only 12 croretaka in revenue to the government are doing fish business worth around 219 croretaka every year by taking control of the jalamahals.

Ibrahim Mia, a fisherman from Itna, said influential people in the area forced them to lease the river when they went fishing in the open water.

He said that his government has to implement this policy. At the same time, the real fishermen have to take measures to get the identity card officially.

Advocate HasnatQayyum, Member Secretary of ‘Bangladesh Next to Haor’, said, “Our misfortune is controlling only 100 influential water bodies. Therefore, it is time to cancel the lease system of Jalmahal.

Deputy Commissioner Mohammad ShamimAlam said the jalmahals were leased to the actual fishermen's cooperative society in accordance with government laws and regulations. How the waterways are managed later is beyond our jurisdiction.

He further said that the fishermen have the right to open water in the open water. There were no complaints from influential people about fishing. Action must be taken if specific written complaints are received.