Wednesday, February 20, 2019 | ePaper

Ensure equal sharing of waters from common rivers

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LIKE other rivers across the country, 12 small rivers have already dried up and two major rivers -- Teesta and Dharla -- have been turned into canals in Nilphamari, due to lack of water flow from upstream India. Mile-long chars have developed on the rivers, causing problems for the char people as they have to cross many kilometres of sandy char land to go to the mainland. As the two major rivers have turned into canals, almost all of the 300 boatmen and over 2,000 fishermen, who depended on the rivers to earn their livelihood, have become unemployed.
The Teesta and the Dharla used to flow all-year-round a decade ago, but nowadays there is not enough water in winter for optimal agriculture. Across the villages situated on the banks of two rivers in the district, the situation is similarly gloomy. The Teesta, which can be upto five km wide, is currently reduced to a width of about 30 metres, with only knee-deep water. The scenario is the same for the Dharla. The unilateral construction of a barrage across the Teesta at India's Gazaldoba, around 100 km upstream of the Teesta Barrage Irrigation Project at Dalia in Hatibandha Upazila, is the reason for the poor condition of the river.
Farmers in the country's northern districts depend on Teesta water to irrigate their crop fields during the dry season, but unusually low flow of the river badly affects farming and biodiversity in the region. Besides, a huge quantity of sediment from upstream India comes into Bangladesh during monsoon and fills up the river-bed of the Teesta and the Dharla rivers every year. It is necessary to dredge the river-bed to remove the excess sediment and revive the flow of river water.
This time, the people are hopeful to reach an agreement with India on the long-hyped Teesta water sharing treaty, which might ensure equitable water flow into the rivers. Otherwise, the desertification will permanently change the natural topography in the northern districts.


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