Save Halda river from ecological disaster
HALDA river in Chattogram, the lone source of natural carp breeding in South Asia, is now surrounded by a number of unplanned projects like rubber dams and sluice gates constructed on the upstream. These projects have been hampering the breeding of fish species, said speakers at a seminar held in the Port City recently. The seminar, titled "Course of Action to save Halda River", was organised by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) and Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD). The speakers said manmade hazards, withdrawal of water from upstream and release of industrial and sewage waste are key reasons behind the river's deteriorating condition.
The River Halda is the richest spawning ground of three major carps, namely: Catla, Rohita and Mrigala. This river has long been the source of naturally produced carp fry. The river is characterized in the monsoon by the prevalence of fertilized eggs of carps, fry and fingerlings that are hatched in artificial beds scooped out on the river bank. The fry and fingerlings are supplied to different parts of the country for fish culture. Halda being a major source of carp fries and fingerlings, successful spawning and breeding of the carps in this river greatly affects the national economy in the fisheries sector. But now, the people engaged in commercial business of the Halda fish fry have been suffering heavy losses due to unfavourable conditions of water.
Chief Executive of BELA, said, "Harmful and unnecessary projects have been implemented without discussing with people, whose lives depend on Halda." Now, the structures on the river's upstream have been affecting its ecosystem. As a result, a total of 15-20 kilometres of the river remain dry from December to March. The mother fishes cannot move from other branches of the river for 14 sluice gates.
We know, no detailed scientific work has yet been undertaken despite the importance of carp spawning in the Halda river. It's extremely a matter of great concern to us that unplanned projects have been implemented without consultation with the experts and local people. We do urge the government to take immediate measures to save the river from ecological disaster.