The second largest beel (waterbody) in the country is Pabna's Gajnar Beel. Although real fishermen have been making a living by fishing in the beel for ages, they have now been evicted.
Disobeying the government rules, some influential fishermen from 15 km away are fishing on a huge lease (Jalmahal) on various leases. In the current season, there has been a clash in Bilpar over giving sub-lease in violation of government law.
On the other hand, the real fishermen have lost their water bodies and are living a half-starved life.
It has been learned that the bean mouza of Gajnar in Sujanagar upazila of Pabna is under Raninagar union. From 1983 to 2003, the waterbody of the mouza was leased to 150 fishermen under the Raninagar Fishermen's Cooperative Society. In 2003, this cooperative society became ineffective.
Then in 2005, the water palace was handed over from the Ministry of Land to the Ministry of Fisheries. The Department of Fisheries then undertook a project to restore endangered fishes in inland open water bodies. At that time, a local Jalmahal Management Committee was formed with the real fishermen of Bilpar.
An agreement of the Fisheries Department was also signed with this committee. This committee implemented this project from 2007 to 2016. From 2007 to 2016, the committee occupied the reservoir by depositing money in accordance with government rules and regulations.
During this time, several extinct species of fish were recovered, including digging ponds in the bill. The Jalmahal Management Committee has applied for extension of Jalmahal lease for another 10 years. But the water palace was taken back from the Ministry of Fisheries to the Ministry of Lands.
In the meantime, some influential fishermen from Manikhat Union, 15 km away, secretly leased the Jal Mahal of Beel for five years from the Ministry of Land under the name of ‘Bonkhola Fishermen's Association’.
There are allegations that the district administration did not even give any notice to the actual fishermen. Although the government has a rule to lease the actual fishermen of the union under the bill, it has not been complied with.
The land ministry wants a report from the deputy commissioner if the real fishermen apply to the ministry to cancel the lease. The then Deputy Commissioner Md. Jasim Uddin on August 2, 2018 canceled the sub-lease and recommended to give the lease to the real fishermen.