Dying Putimari river cries for a new lease of life

Dying Putimari river cries for a new lease of life

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Dhaka-It was barely 30 years ago when heavy water vessels like cargo, streamer and launch, used to ply the Putimari River in the district. Gone are the days! The once-mighty Putimari is almost a dead river now. It is going to be disappeared from the country’s map as a river due to continuous siltation on its riverbeds.“When I was a young man, I saw the golden time of the Putimari. It had strong currents and high waves and deep depth which enabled big vessels ply through it smoothly,” Farhad Ali Sheikh, a sexagenarian who lives at Mirzapur village near the river, told UNB.
The Putimari once had a plenty of fish, he said, but most of the fish species have already disappeared from it as it is drying up gradually for lack of adequate water flow.
“Fishing was my occupation. I used to catch fish from the river using nets and sold those in nearby markets. This was how I met my family expenses. But I was forced to quit fishing as the river has no fish now. I’ve ended up as mere a day-labourer,” Farhad said.
Iqbal Tarafder, 75, a resident of Dema village in the vicinity of the river, said it is hard to believe that once there was a river seeing the dried up Putimari. “It has died within a couple of decades as silt deposited on the riverbeds.”
Like Farhad and Iqbal, many others recalled the glorious days they passed with the river and urged the authorities concerned to take dredging programme to restore navigability of the Putimari.
The 10-kilometre Putimari River runs through Bagerhat Sadar upazila, starting from the Daratana River of the district and falls into the Bishna River.
During a recent visit to the Putimari, the UNB correspondent found that there is no adequate water flow in the river even during monsoon as the river is almost silted up. It has turned into a drain.
Local people have started building houses on its silted-up riverbed, while farmers farming on its char land.
Sheikh Bashirul Islam, chairman of Karapara Union Parishad of Bagerhat sadar, said siltation process in Putimari River started in the 1980s and now the river turned into a plain land for lack of water flow.
“During any high tide, there is a little water in the river, but you’ll find no water during the low tide,” he said, stressing immediate dredging of the Putimari River to restore its flow.
Like the Putimari, other rivers of Bagerhat district have seen drastic fall of water flow as siltation is contributing to dying-up of these rivers.
Officials at local Water Development Board office said the rivers with their beds filled up for silt deposition are the Daudkhali, Bishna, Putimari, Atharobeki, Chitra, Bhairab, Bhola, Baleshwar, Kumarkhali, Kat Bhairab and old Pashur.
The rivers and the canals are also losing navigability for emergence of shoals due to accumulation of silts hampering the smooth movement of vessels during the dry season.
Moshiur Rahman, executive engineer of the Water Development Board, Bagerhat, said water flow in the rivers declined and silts deposited up at the confluence of the sea due to climatic change impacts.
“With the decline in water flow from the upstream, the rivers’ beds are being filled up with sediments. About 1000 killometres of these rivers and canals have already lost navigability as many of them have turned into plain lands,” he said.

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