Zarif Mahmud: For more than four decades, the impact of Farakka has directly affected nearly two million people in the south-northern region of the country. Padma, one of the main rivers of the country, is depleting during the dry season. As a result, the area along the banks of the river including IshwardiUpazila of Pabna in the Padma river basin is turning into a desert. The once beautiful Padma has dried up and has now turned into a dead canal.
As the water in the Padma has receded, the tributaries of the Padma flowing over the region have also dried up. As the temperature in this region is rising, fishermen are losing their jobs.
The river Ganga flows from India and enters Bangladesh through Chapainawabganj border under the name Padma. Padma is one of the major rivers of Bangladesh. Once upon a time, the life of the people of this area was centered around this river.
In 1975, the Government of India constructed the Farakka Dam on the upper reaches of the Ganges River in India. Since then, the normal flow of water in Padma river has stopped. Padma changes. Due to lack of water during the dry season, Padma turns into a dusty desert. Again, when India opened the Farakka Dam during the monsoon season, the villages and towns along the banks of the Padma disappeared under the river.
On May 16, 1976, a long march of millions of people towards Farakka was held under the leadership of public leader Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani to protest the construction of the Farakka Dam by the Indian government. On that day, people from all walks of life in Bengal protested against India’s water invasion. Since 1976, May 16 has been observed as Farakka Day. On this day, the construction of Farakka Dam was protested through various events. Residents on the banks of the river said that due to the adverse effects of Farakka, Padma is becoming waterless day by day. During the dry season miles and miles of sand dunes rise up. Dry grass has risen under the six pillars of PakshiHardinge Bridge of IshwardiUpazila. Char has also risen around the 9 pillars that are in the water. There is no fish in the river, fishermen are not able to collect fish for their own food by pulling nets with boats. As a result, the livelihood of fishermen who depend on Padma is now under threat.
Hero freedom fighter Abul Kalam Azad, resident of Ishwardi’sPadmapar, writer and researcher, told that we, the people of Padma river, used to wake up at night due to the roar of the river. That Padma is silent now. Due to the lack of water during the dry season, dusty sand has risen across the chest of the Padma. According to the water agreement between Bangladesh and India in 1996, even if the water flows in the Padma, the Padma would be saved from desertification to some extent.
Ganga-Kapotaksha Irrigation Scheme, Pabna Irrigation and Rural Development Scheme, Panasi Scheme, Varendra Scheme are now under threat due to reduction of water flow in Padma due to the impact of Farakka. As the flow of water in the Padma has decreased, thousands of acres of land have been cultivated under these irrigation schemes, so sophisticated deep tube wells have been installed. Yet the irrigation problem is not being solved.
Jahangir Alam, a resident of Pakshi area on the banks of the Padma of the upazila, said that the Padma has become a dead river during the dry season due to reduced water flow in the Padma. There has been a huge impact on the biodiversity here. Fishermen are not getting fish in the river. As a result, they lose employment and become unemployed. Water is not rising through the tubewells in the Padma bank area. The crisis has arisen because the water level has gone down. Besides, lack of water has adversely affected the environment and weather of Padma Par.
Carpenter Belal Hossain was working on making boats under PakshiHardinge Bridge. He told that earlier there was water in Padma for 12 months. Fishermen used to catch fish by boat. Many people used to travel on the river. Now there is no water in the river for about 9 months of the year. Because of this, the need for boats has also decreased. Earlier I used to make boats all year round. Now boat building is done only for three to four months of the year.
My grandparents also worked in boat building. I heard from them that they used to make boats all year round. He did not have time to do other work. Now we have to leave boat building and do other work.
According to the hydrology department of Pabna Water Development Board, after the Bangladesh-India joint water agreement, water monitoring is carried out from January 1 to May 31 every year. According to this agreement, Joint River Commission officials are monitoring the Ganges water at Farakka Point in India. Besides, another delegation is monitoring this at two and a half thousand feet upstream of PakshiHardinge Bridge in Ishwardi.
According to the terms of the agreement, if the flow of water in Farakka is 70 thousand cusecs or less for the first 10 days, both Bangladesh and India will get 50 percent of the water. In the second 10 days, if there is a flow of 70,000 cusecs at Farakka Point, Bangladesh will get 35,000 cusecs of water. In the third 10 days, if there is a water flow of 75,000 cusecs or more at Farakka Point, India will get 40,000 cusecs of water, Bangladesh will get the rest.
However, according to the terms of the agreement, from March 11 to May 10, both Bangladesh and India will get 35,000 cusecs of water in the order of 3 points of 10 days.
Upazila Assistant Public Health Engineer Mahabub Islam told Jago News that the underground water level is going down every year in the area along the Padma River of IshwardiUpazila. In the current season, the water level has gone down in the tube wells of the riverside villages. If the water level falls like this during the dry season, after 10 years it will be difficult to get clean drinking water in this area.
Afsar Uddin, executive engineer of Pabna Paubo, said that water is being constantly monitored at the Hardinge bridge point of Padma river. During the dry season the water flow is normally low. Now there is water in 9 pillars of Hardinge Bridge. The remaining 6 pillars are waterless. Bio-diversity and climate have been affected due to reduction in water flow of Padma.
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