Livelihood of the Irri-Boro farmers and fishermen of the district is facing a severe threat as the 20 rivers flowing through and around the district are drying up with the advent of winter.
Drying up of the rivers has left thousands of farmers facing acute shortage of irrigation water, leaving numerous fishermen of the district unemployed.
The Irri-Boro farmers are raising an uphill battle to irrigate their paddy fields while the unemployed fishermen are now trying to switch their profession in order to survive. farmers are struggling to Irri-Boro paddy, say the locals.
Moshiur Rahman (40), a farmer from the district’s Chatnai Coloni village, told the Bangladesh Post, “Earlier, we could easily divert water from the river to our cropland but now we cannot do so, as the rivers have dried up. This is happening every year.”
“Though shallow machines are available for irrigation, they are costly. So, we can hardly benefit from using shallow machine as we would have to spend a hefty amount for irrigation,” he added.
Altab Mamud (32), a fisherman of Pagol Para village, said, “We cannot catch fish during summer due to lack of water in the nearby rivers.”
He also said that he just cannot switch to other professions for lack of money, and so is living a miserable life.”
Local people said all the rivers flowing through or beside the district have silted up and due to lack of dredging.
During the rainy season, they easily overflow, vastly damaging the farmland. On the other hand, during the winter and summer seasons they just dry up due to lack of water flow from the upstream.
They said, “As the rivers have dried up, many farmers are now growing crops on the riverbeds. It is a pity to see people cultivating on riverbeds, because once, when these rivers were full to the brim,
their water was used to help grow crops on tens of thousands of
acres of land.
Observing that the suffering of the farmers and fishermen due to due to dried up rivers is multitudinous, Saiful Islam, a villager, told the Bangladesh Post, “Their suffering will not come down unless navigability is brought back to the rivers.”
“The relevant authorities like the water development board should resolve the issue immediately and end the suffering of the farmers and fishermen dependent on the rivers for their livelihood,” he added.