Chairmans fishery blocks flow of Ichhamati
Fish farming using bamboo and net fencing continues unabated in a four-kilometer area of the Ichhamati river in Nawabganj, Dhaka. Local residents suffer. The photo was taken recently. Hasan RajaA local chairman has been fish farming on the Ichhamati river in Shikaripara union of Nawabganj in Dhaka, hampering the river’s natural flow.This has caused local residents a lot of suffering.Chairman of Shikaripara union Alimor Rahman Khan erected a bamboo fence around a four-kilometre area on the Ichhamati river about five years ago and started fish farming.As a result, residents cannot freely use the river for bathing, fishing, or travelling. The life of aquatic animals is also in danger and river traffic cannot move.Residents say they have complained to the district administration.Under the authority of mobile courts, the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has had the fence removed a number of times, but the chairman and his associates put up a new fence and start fish farming again.The residents allege this fish cultivation has been going on for the last five years. Around 600 fishermen from seven villages used to fish in the river. Now the chairman’s henchmen do not allow them to fish. They also prevent villagers from bathing in the river. When, The chairman’s men snatch away stray ducks from the river that belong to local residents.There are also allegations of local residents being beaten up and residents on both banks of the river are leading troubled lives.There is a large bridge over the Ichhamati river in front of a bazar in Shikaripara union of Nawabganj. Under the bridge, bamboo and net fencing form clusters of fisheries. Such operations can be found in other sections of the river including Mahespur, Garibpur, and Hagradi bazar.During a recent visit, this correspondent, on Sunday, found a bamboo and net fence stretching some 300 metres wide on the river near the Kashiakhali dyke.Local residents say such fences are there at about eight different places on the river.Speaking to Prothom Alo, a number of fishermen, including Amar Haldar, a fisherman from Daudpur, and Maron Barmon from Ananda Nagar, said they were not allowed to fish in the river for five years. Earlier, fishing on the river was their livelihood.Ali Hossain, Shikaripara bazar trader says there was a time when they travelled by launch on the river. Now, not even a boat can move on it. Because of a dyke built at Dasher Kandi, where the river originates, sand builds up in the area.Speaking to Prothom Alo, Awami League president of Shikaripara union, Mozammel Hoque, said the chairman is grabbing the river and water bodies of the locality using a “pocket” committee.According to chairman Alimor Khan at his home, the river flow is falling due to an embankment at Kashiakhali and water dries out during the lean season. Following these circumstances, the Directorate of Fisheries launched a project in 2017 to cultivate fish by dredging seven kilometers of the river. He said a 104-member committee comprising of fishermen, freedom fighters and their beneficiaries, are running the project. Alimor, who heads the committee, said Tk 1M is invested in the fish farming enterprise and the profits are distributed to the aforementioned beneficiaries.Asked whether it is fair to cultivate fish by obstructing the river, Alimore said, “The directorate of fisheries is not concerned about the flow of the river. The organisation focuses on fish production in the country.”About the allegations of local residents, chairman Alimor Khan said, “We do not torture anybody. Out of jealousy, some people spread false propaganda’.When contacted about the project, Iqbal Azim, deputy director of fisheries, , in charge of Dhaka division, said a project of dredging rivers and ponds across the country to cultivate fish was indeed undertaken.by. He also said the local administration leased out the water bodies to various beneficiaries. The department of fisheries provides the scientific and technical support, said Iqbqal Azim, adding that they provided technical assistance for the fish farming project on the Ichhamati river.He said the local administration attends to matters like grabbing, , and any hardships of local people.Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Nawabganj-Dohar, AKM Al Amin, said he would investigate the allegations and take action.Prothom Alo Nawabganj Corresondent cooperated to file this report. * This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.
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