Shoilmari: A river dead, livelihoods endangered

Dipankar Roy

The once mighty Shoilmari river in Khulna’s Batiaghata upazila can now only be called a river on paper. In just three years, it has been filled with silt.

The once 150-metre-wide river has now turned into a 3 to 4-metre narrow channel. Boats cannot sail there in low tide and people can cross its stretch by walking.

Experts say the lack of upstream flow, unplanned dams, and construction of sluice gates are responsible for the river’s death. Besides, after piling pillars for Rupsha Rail Bridge, the connecting river Shoilmari was silted within a short period.

BWDB officials say a huge amount of silt deposited on the river bed that comes through tide is a common trend in the southwestern region. Khulna’s Batiaghata is no exception.

The water supply from at least 100 villages, including Dakatiya beel, Gutudia and Panchu, has been cut off as Shoilmari river’s water disappeared. Besides, these areas also run the risk of waterlogging in near future due to the river’s disappearance.

This correspondent visited Dhani Bunia, Soilmari, Uttar Shilmari, Hogolbunia, Hatbati, Choighoria, Jolma, Batiaghata, Khalashibunia, Baguladanga, Par Batiaghata, Mailmara along the river basin.

At Dakshinpara area of Uttar Shoilmari, some villagers have already occupied the river beds and filled the areas with sand. A similar situation was noticed in Hogolbunia Khayaghat area.

Brick kilns have also been built by encroaching the river.

At Ramdia sluice gate area of Jalma union, eight out of nine gates were seen closed due to the siltation of the river.

“Shoilmari was over 800 to 900 feet wide. Just 10 years ago, three launch routes from this river used to carry passengers to Koyra, Paikgacha in Khulna and Burigoalini in Satkhira district. Shoilmari began to fill up in 2015-16 and within a few years, the water flow stopped,” said Nimai Chandra Roy (72), a former primary school teacher of Khalashi Bunia village, who used to cross the river to attend classes in the ’90s and 2000s at Dumuria upazila.

Motiar Rahman, a resident of Uttar Soilmari village who retired from BWDB in 2008, said he was engaged in the construction of the embankment and polder 28/2 in the 70s.

“Due to excessive silt coming from the river’s two heads, some brick kilns that occupied the river bed contributed to the river’s dying state. If the river is not excavated, people will not be able to live in this area,” he said.

Panchanon Golder, a mobile fish trader of Chalksoilmari village, said, “Earlier, I used to cross the river to go to Khulna by boat or trawler every morning. But in the last two years, boats don’t run during low tide.”

“Very often I crossed the river by walking in knee-deep mud. Locals used to catch fish, including Hilsa, Loitta and shrimp, from here. However, very few fish can be found in the river now,” he said.

ABM Shafiqul Islam, president of Pani Committee, a civil society platform which works on rivers and water in the Khulna region, said, “The coastal rivers are naturally under the influence of tides. Upstream water used to balance these rivers. But in the name of river management, unplanned dams and construction of sluice gates are killing the river. Soilmari is a victim of it.”

Ashutosh Barman, executive engineer of BWDB, Khulna Division-1 said, “We issued a notice for evicting the illegal structures, including brick kilns. We also plan to dredge the river.”

However, he mentioned nothing about the tentative period required for excavation.

Article originally published on The Daily Star

Related News

Farmers find hope in solar-powered irrigation

EAM Asaduzzaman Life is easier now for Abu Taleb, 45, a potato farmer of Saddyo Puskuruni village in Rangpur. A year ago, high irrigation costs for diesel-run pumps, which he bore out-of-pocket, made it difficult for him to provide for his three children. Now, after switching to solar-powered irrigation, his livelihood has changed for the ... Read more

Countrywide heavy rains until 13 Sep

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The current heavy rains brought on by the depression at the Bay of Bengal are predicted to last until Tuesday, according to the weather forecast service. The low will weaken in next 24 hours and move towards the plain land through Odisha and towards Chhatishgarh through West Bengal afterwards. Mostafa Kamal ... Read more

120 hills disappeared from Chattogram in 4 decades

An environmental group called Bangladesh Environment Forum alleged Sunday that 120 hills had vanished from Chattogram city in the past forty years. The port city’s hills decreased from 32.37 square kilometers in 1976 to 14.02 square kilometers in 2008, according to a written statement from the forum’s general secretary, Aliur Rahman. He was addressing during ... Read more

A young agro enthusiast helping farmers in Tangail

Mirza Shakil When the pandemic hit and in-person classes at universities were suspended, Shakil Ahmed, then a final-year student of agriculture department at Noakhali Science and Technology University, had returned home. But he refused to sit idle, and so, asked his father for a plot of land to farm squash. The yield was massive as ... Read more

Brood fish release sample eggs in Halda

Brood fish in the Halda have released sample eggs – indicating full spawning – since Saturday night at various points of the river. Egg collectors got 200-500 grammes of eggs on average since Saturday night from the river. Ashu Barua from Madunaghat area, a seasoned egg collector, told The Daily Star that they started coming ... Read more

Ban on catching hilsa to end at midnight after 2 months

The ban on catching hilsa will be lifted at midnight today after two months. The fisheries department said due to the two-month ban, it will be possible to collect the desired target of 6 lakh tonnes of hilsa fish this time, reports our Barishal correspondent. However, many fishermen said they are not interested in going to ... Read more

Second chance at education for Pirojpur elderly

“I never knew there’s so much beauty and fun hidden inside a book,” said 44-year-old Salma Begum, who learned to read and write very recently. “I had to blindly trust anyone who could read to let me know the contents of important documents. Now I’m self-sufficient in that regard, and use my own signature instead of ... Read more

Barind farmers at mercy of DTW operators

Ethnic minorities suffer more Suzon Ali . Rajshahi Farmers in the Barind region are held hostage by Barind Multipurpose Development Authority deep tube well operators. Some farmers in the region said that deep tube well operators did not irrigate their land properly while others said that operators extracted extra money and ‘undue benefits’ from them. Talking ... Read more

Local seeds for local needs

Female farmers of Khulna exchange varieties at fair Dipankar Roy Seeds of local varieties – preserved by families for generations – have been the most adaptive way of cultivation for the distinct climatic conditions of the country’s coastal areas. In what is considered a yearly tradition, female farmers exchange the seeds at the “seed fair”, ... Read more

Ingenious indigenous innovation

Kabuljan Begum’s eco-friendly oven makes waves across Rajshahi Anwar Ali Fourteen years ago, Kabuljan Begum developed an environment-friendly oven to keep herself and her family safe from air pollution caused by open-fire ovens. Her solution has now become the go-to choice for hundreds of others in the rural areas of Rajshahi region, covering three districts ... Read more

Tow month long hilsha fishing ban imposes from today

In a bid to conserve Jatka or juveniles of hilsa, the government has imposed a two-month ban on netting, selling and transporting hilsa in six sanctuaries from today (March 1). Bimal Chandra Das, fisheries officer of Barishal, said the ban is going to be observed across 432km area of six districts, including three in Barishal division. ... Read more

Food crisis hits bee colonies

Thousands kill each other, climate change blamed Emran Hossain This year’s frequent, untimely winter rain left bees, a key pollinator, in an unprecedented conflict as they died in thousands fighting over food, beekeepers and government agricultural extension officials said. Affected beekeepers said that they never faced a crisis of food for bees to this extent ... Read more

Scientists expect Kakila will roam into water again

Freshwater garfish, known as Kakila in Bangladesh, once found in open water bodies, especially in rivers, canals, haors etc., is a delicious fish that is rich in nutrients, but now it is almost extinct, due to the effects of climate, natural disasters and various man-made habitats, damage to breeding grounds and the number of the ... Read more

The fastest Sailfish caught in the Bay of Bengal

Curious people rushed to see and touch the Sailfish caught in the fisherman’s nets on Wednesday Two marine fish have been caught in fishermen’s nets in the Bay of Bengal. Fishermen locally call it ‘golpata’ fish because of the shape of its back fins. Experts say, actually these are sailfish, members of the billfish family ... Read more

Bad days for good farmers in Bangladesh 

Chemically grown pineapples see higher demand Consumers are falling for chemically grown eye-candy pineapples that look bigger and brighter than the naturally farmed ones but actually taste bland and have less nutrient content. This trend is hurting the farmers who are not using excessive chemicals while growing the fruit. To get a firsthand experience of ... Read more

Three in one

Cost effective agricultural tool made in Dinajpur A locally manufactured harvester in Dinajpur proves to be an all-in-one device, while the cost is relatively low. Anwar Hossain, a 51-year old quack at Dakkhin Basudevpur village under Phulbari upazila, designed the machine that can harvest, thresh and pack paddy or wheat simultaneously. The machine, which requires only ... Read more

Grabbers feast on Bakkhali river

Lax legal process encourages enchroachers in Cox’s Bazar Bakkhali river in Cox’s Bazar is getting narrower day by day as the land grabbers are out to encroach on both sides of the river by erecting illegal structures. Many of the grabbers have either built structures or hung signboards on the encroached land along the banks ... Read more

Unusual rain at end of monsoon

Just before the end of the monsoon, the country has been experiencing unusual October rains following three drier months in a row when the monsoon was supposed to be most active with heavy rainfalls. Usually, the country experiences a maximum of eight rainy days in October, the Met office website says. But this time around, ... Read more

Conqueror of odds

Pirojpur farmer prevails over salinity through innovation Defying the onslaught of salinity that had long been affecting rice cultivation, a farmer in Pirojpur is now excelling in fish and vegetable farming, setting an example for others to follow. “Making profits from the combined farming of fish and vegetables is a total shift from the loss ... Read more

Sylhet experiences this year’s highest rainfall

Sylhet experienced this year’s highest rainfall till date with over 247mm of rain falling in the nine hours preceding 3:00pm yesterday, states the regional Met office. Heavy rainfall since early morning caused waterlogging in different areas from two to five hours till 5:00pm, leading to a low presence of students in educational institutions and vehicles ... Read more