The ‘Katagang’, a man-made water channel which flows through the 24-km-long Chalan Beel, which was re-excavated only two to two-and-a-half years ago, is running dry now. Moreover, even though the channel have been re-excavated at a cost of around 20 crores, trees have been planted on both banks of the channel, it is of no use in the ongoing Boro season. Because the channels are not excavated properly, these are empty of water soon during winter, become almost completely empty of water in the summer season. So that the farmers are not getting irrigation facilities, fishermen have also stopped catching native fish and the navigation is also stopped due to lack of water - said the farmer Hasmat Ali of Vetua village in Taras Upazila.
In this regard, member of ‘Chalan Beel Raksha Andolan’ SM Mizanur Rahman said that doing such small work will not help the Chalan Beel, to develop the Chalan Beel, it must be developed materially. Doing small things means that only a few people will benefit. But, there will be no benefit to people. Chalan Beel will not get benefit from such work. Only those who implement the project will benefit. According to the sources of Sirajganj Water Development Board, in the last fiscal year 2018-19, the 24 km long Katagang river flowing from Vetua in Tarash upazila of Sirajganj district to Bhangura upazila Ashtamanisha area of Pabna district was re-excavated to bring hundreds of farmers of ‘Katagang’-dominated area of Chalan Beel region to irrigation facilities free of charge, to remove the navigability crisis in the transportation of goods during the monsoon season and to create a sanctuary for the native species of freshwater fish of the region.
Basically, the farmers will get irrigation facilities free of cost in thousands of hectares of Boro land in the remote areas of Chalan Beel-dominated Saguna Union of Tarash Upazila of Sirajganj District, Magura Vinod Union, Handyal Union of Chatmohar Upazila of Pabna District, Ashtamanisha Union of Bhangura Upazila. Keeping this in mind, the Sirajganj Water Development Board is implementing the re-dredging of the channel flowing through the remote Chalan Beel at the end of 2020 at a cost of about Tk 20 crore under the re-dredging of small rivers, canals and reservoirs within 64 districts project (first phase).
It has been seen that ‘Katagang’ located in Tarash upazila area on the surface, 80 to 85 percent of the re-excavated channel is in Tarash part, which is about 8 to 10 kilometers long, does not have water. The boats used in monsoon are lying on the dry bed of the channel. There is no sight of water being pumped from the canal to the engine by the irrigation machine.
However, Zakirul Islam, a farmer of Kundail village, said that the farmers of the area adjacent to the Gang were very happy after the channel was re-excavated. Because the money spent by the farmer on irrigating Boro and Rabi crops through diesel powered irrigation machines. Compared to that, if the floating water is removed from the canal with a diesel powered irrigation machine, the irrigation cost is reduced by half. A large amount of land can be watered in a short time.
Ramzan Ali, another farmer of Kundail village in Tarash Upazila, said that the channel was filled with the prescribed excavation depth when it was re-excavated. Along with this, because the excavated soil of the channel is placed loosely on the banks, the soil has eroded and fallen to the bottom of the canal in the last two monsoon seasons. Due to this, in a short time, most of the channel is filled and the water is empty already. As a result, the farmers, fishermen and shipping industry are not benefiting from re-excavation of the channel, said Mirazul Islam, the owner of an engine driven boat in Kushabari area.
Nevertheless, in the re-excavation work of the Water Development Board, the channel was supposed to be excavated to a depth of 12-14 feet. So that Boro and Rabi crop farmers of these areas can benefit financially by open irrigation of their crop lands during the entire Boro season. In addition, when the river becomes navigable, the waterlogged channel can act as a fish sanctuary during the fish breeding season in summer. But in reality it did not happen like that, said the fisherman Jabbar Ali of Makarshon area. In this context, the executive engineer of Sirajganj Water Development Board Mahbubur Rahman said, it is not right to expect that there will be water throughout the year. However, he claimed that the re-excavation of the channel, even for a period of time, has facilitated navigation during the monsoon season and irrigation of winter crops and Boro plantations for a period of time.