Most rivers in Khulna Division are facing a serious navigability problem, hampering the movement of boats and vessels as repeated requests for dredging fell on deaf ears.
There are 78 rivers in the division and 25 of them have dried up while 10 are on the verge of dying, said sources at Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).
These 25 rivers are Haria, Mayur, Hamkura, Kocha, Shela in Khulna, Bhola, Haura, Sara, Chuna, Jamuna, Ramsagar in Bagerhat; Sonai in Satkhira; Teka in Kushtia; Chitra in Narail; Kumar, Maragang and Bhadra in Madaripur.
Besides, sholas have developed in the middle of Rupsha and Pashur rivers under Khulna-Mongla river route, hampering the movement of vessels. Goods-laden cargo vessels navigate the area braving risks as a shoal emerged in the Kazibachha River in Batiaghata upazila.
A huge shoal has emerged in the Shibsha River from Deluti to Goroikhali in Paikgaccha upazila of the district, disrupting the movement of small engine-run boats.
Launches and boats are moving through three routes - Khulna-Madinabad, Khulna-Nildumur and Khulna-Jorsing routes – of the district while cargo vessels are operating on Abhaynagar and Nauapara routes in the northern parts of the division.
Recently, the BIWTA has written to the authorities concerned for dredging at 20 points of the rivers. The points are – Hodda, Nalian, Ghugrakathi, Manipur, Kurikaunia, Madinabad, Patakhali on Khulna-Nildumur route, Sardarghat, Mathbaria, Manipur, both sides of Bagi ghat, on Khulna-Jorsing route, Maninabad ghat to Patakhali point, Jaigir Mohol to Madinabad on Kopotakkho river, Chalna, Dakope, Kamarkhali, Botbunia, Kalibari, Arshibosha, Mongla-Chalna, Angtihara-Raimangal route, Khulna-Kalabogi and Joymonirgol-Sonnashi route.
According to the letter, dredging work is needed on the listed routes to maintain river transportation but the authorities concerned did not take any effective measure despite being informed several times.
Mostafizur Rahman, deputy director of BIWTA, said, “We’ve sent a proposal seeking dredging work on the internal river routes of Khulna-Mongla, Khulna-Barishal, Khulna-Bagerhat, Daulatpur-Gopalganj and Tekerhat-Gopalganj routes. The dredging works will start once the authorities concerned give the nod.”
SM Asaduzzaman, president of BIWTA Khulna Workers Union, lamented the current shabby state of the river transportation sector. “Vessels used to operate on 19 river routes from Khulna port only a decade ago. But now, no goods-laden vessels, except those carrying government food and fertiliser, ply these routes,” he said.