Rivers, canals of Chalan Beel going extinct!

Published : 28 Jan 2022 09:02 PM | Updated : 28 Jan 2022 09:03 PM

Every year, the rivers, canals and beels of Chalan Beel, the largest fresh waterbody in Bangladesh are drying up. Irrigation work is hampered due to the navigability crisis in the water bodies of the area as well as on the way to the extinction of native fishery resources. It is also affecting the economy, environment, agriculture, trade and commerce. The canals, beels and rivers of Chalan Beel area are losing their originality as they have not done excavation work for a long time. In the evolution of time, the once mighty waterbody, the "moving Beel" has now become a dead waterbody.

All the canals connecting multiple rivers with the Beel have already dried up this season. Since the beginning of winter, most of the big canals have dried up and all the naval communication systems of those routes have been closed. Due to lack of water in the river, canals and the Beel, there is a crisis of local fish in the markets of this area. Although the cost of transporting goods by water is less, at present almost all the waterways in the area are closed and traders have to transport goods by land at higher cost.

According to the Itikatha Boi of Chalan Beel written by Principal Md Abdul Hamid, the rivers Atrai and Gur originating from the hills of Jalpaiguri came to Rajshahi and later split into several branches. One of its tributaries flows through Koyrabari, Nandanali, and Atrai, at a distance of one mile from Atrai Ghat, under the name of 'Gur', through Singra, Ekanna Bigha, Jogendranagar and Kalakandar and merges with Nanda Kujar at Chanchkair Trimohana. Their confluence flows eastwards in the name of Gumani and joins the Baral river at Nurnagar. In 1787 AD, the river Atrai was cut off from the Teesta. From the north-western border of Jalpaiguri, Dinajpur, Rangpur, Bogura, Sirajganj, Raiganj, Nimgachhi, Tarash, Chatmohar's Handial, merged into Baral River near Ashtamanisha. An earthquake in 1304 killed several parts of the river. Part of Karatoya is known as Atrai and Fuljhor. The river Baral flows from Charghat estuary of Padma through Bagatipara of Natore, Chatigohar through Baraigram and joins Gumani in Nurnagar. In the middle of the second half of the nineteenth century, the river was a tributary, but at the very end it crossed the river from Rajshahi to Nurnagar, so it is now dead. 

The Baral Raksha Committee has been struggling for a long time to rescue this river. As a result of removal of three cross dams at Chatmohar Natun Bazar, Bonthar Ghat and Ramnagar Ghat. Due to the occupation of the river by the occupiers, it has not been possible to connect the Jamuna with the Padma yet. From Nurnagar to Baghabari, the river came back to life for a while in the rainy season. The Chenchua River joins the Chatra Beel, Jordaha, Afrar Beel, Khalishagari Beel and Kinu Sarkar on the south side of Dharabarisha and joins the Gumani River west of Charsengram. This river has also become non-existent.

The Chiknai River joins the Baral River near Demra in Faridpur, flowing through the Chinadanga Beel at Baraigram in South Chalanbil, passing through Mulgram in Chatmohar. The river is controlled from Faridpur as there is a widget in Demra area. During the monsoon season, there is water in this river for four months, but the river is empty for the remaining 6 months. Apart from these, the condition of Banganga, Tulshi River, Bhadai River, Mora Atrai River is very bad.

In addition to the rivers Nabir Hajir Jola, Haq Saheb Khal, Niyamat Khal, Sattar Saheb Khal, Kinusarkar's Dhar, Panaullah Khal, Nimaichara-Beshani Khal, Besani-Gumani Khal, Ulipur-Magura Khal, Dobila Khal, Kishorekhali Khal, Behulakhari Khari, The other rivers, tributaries, canals, beels and creeks of Chalanbilanchal including Garabari-Charukhali canal, Janigachhar Jola, Khalishagari Beel, Dhalair Beel, Chayanir Beel, Baira beel, Sadhugari Beel, Mahisha halt have now dried up.

At one time the traders of this area used to transport their goods by low cost waterways from different parts of the country including Dhaka through the river Jamuna. Traders in different parts of Chalon Beel are not able to get it now in the dry season as the river canal beel creek has dried up. The people of Chalan Beel area are not getting the benefit of unplanned excavation of Atrai-Gumani River. They have to spend extra on transporting goods by road. Buyers are not able to buy products from different markets and take them home by boat. Thousands of fishermen have become unemployment due to drying up of water bodies. 

They are being forced to change their profession. In the past, farmers were able to irrigate Boro fields with the help of shallow tube wells from the river, but now they are not able to do so. In addition, as the water level plummets, shallow pump owners are forced to place their irrigation pumps at least 10 feet below the surface at the beginning of the season.

 Dr Mukti Mahmud, Head of the Department of Geography and Ecology, Chatmohar Government College, said that the rivers flowing through the Chalanbil area have become geographically the last stage of the river's life cycle. The slope of the river bed in this area is low, the amount of flowing water is low and the velocity of the river is low. Due to the greater distance of the rivers from the source, the amount of soil particles, gravel and other debris flowing with the water and the amount of storage at the bottom of the river, the water holding capacity of the river valley is gradually decreasing. As a result, the rivers are drying up in the dry season. As a result, the food chain of plants and animals is being disrupted. All other activities related to water including daily life of people and crop production are being disrupted. As a result, the overall environmental catastrophe is happening.