Climate Change: Disappeared 2,000 kilometres of rivers in Bangladesh, endangered flora and fauna
By Adnan Mahfuz
Experts believe that due to the adverse effects of weather and climate change, 2,000 km of lost rivers in the north will not be regained. At present, only 400 km of waterways survive in 16 districts. Rivers in the north have stopped flowing due to various reasons including river management in India, severe drought, extreme cold in winter, less than required rainfall, unplanned groundwater abstraction. In the last 50 years, more than 300 small and big rivers have stopped flowing.
At present, the surviving rivers are losing their previous condition and flowing in weak currents. As a result, agriculture, public health, animals, and plants are under threat in the region. According to the locals, there is knee water in the Teesta during the dry season. Huge chars have sprung up in an area of about 70 km from Dalia to Kaunia. The vigorous Karatoya River of Bogra has now turned into a canal.
Similarly, Ghaghat of Gaibandha, Dharla of Kurigram, and Brahmaputra rivers can be crossed on foot in the dry season. The same is the case with the Padma. Now the whistling of the river is far away, only sand and sand wherever the two eyes go. Due to the effect of Farakka, the Padma has dried up and turned into canals in many places.
But the livelihood of the people of the northern region once depended on this river. Hundreds of rivers have been scattered like spider webs from time immemorial. The sailors of the sailing boat used to animate the river by singing songs of Bhatiali, Marfati, and Murshidi. Nowadays, these do not look like that. As a result of climate change, three-fourths of the rivers in the region have died.
Human settlements and croplands have sprung up on the dead river.
Mahbub Siddiqui, a researcher, and writer on rivers said that at one time there were more than 400 small and big rivers in 16 northern districts. Of these, more than 300 rivers have stopped flowing. In more than 300 lost rivers, waterways were over 2,000 kilometres.
This waterway has now been converted to land. At present, boats are plying along with a handful of rivers. These are Brahmaputra, Meghna, Padma, Teesta, Dharla, Dudhkumar, Phuljor, Baral’s lower part, and Atrai during the monsoon season. These rivers have only 400 km of waterways. Due to the drying up of rivers, the flow of life through the rivers of this region has been stopped for ages.
These rivers, tributaries, branches of rivers, waterfalls canals, and river channels are now only a memory of the people of this region. According to the Water Development Board (BWDB), more than 80 rivers in the Teesta Basin, namely Rangpur, Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, and Gaibandha, have stopped flowing. There are no more than 40 rivers in Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, and Panchagarh districts. Half a century ago, these rivers had the flow of water and the vibration of life.
At present in many places, no existence of these rivers can be seen. Apart from this, about 140 small rivers scattered in the Padma Basin have been lost in the abyss of time. The condition of the Brahmaputra River is more miserable. The river can be crossed on foot in the dry season in the Chilmari area of Kurigram.
According to sources, Dharla, Jaldhaka, Dudhkumar, Teesta, Sati, Ghaghat, Nilkumar, Bangali, Barai, Manas, Kumlai, Latara, Dhum, Burighora, Sonavra, Halhalia, Lohighya are among the more than 300 rivers that have stopped flowing in the north, Dharni, Naleya, Jinjiram, Phulkumar, Katakhali, Salmara, Raydhak, Kharuvanj, Yamuneshwari, Chikli, Mara Karatoya, Ichhamati, Alaikumari, Mara Teesta, etc.
According to sources, the nature of the region was once ruled by Ghaghat and Manas Dapat as tributaries of the Teesta. Many of these places have been urbanized. Again many places have been turned into arable land. It is known that Manas River was about 70 km wide in Alambiditar, Sadar Upazila, and Pirgachha of Gangachara Upazila. This river no longer exists.
Thousands of acres of arable land have come out of the land. The tractor is now running there instead of the boat. Even five decades ago, boats were sailing on the Manas River while Potatoes are now being planted in the heart of that River. According to sources, hundreds of rivers in an area of 2,000 km in the north have dried up.
As a result, the agricultural fields of this region are being destroyed. Water is not available in deep-shallow tube wells.