Canal blocked for fish farming in Gopalganj

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To cultivate fish, an illegal dam has been built beneath the culvert of Khagbari canal in Ramshil union of Kotalipara upazila , Gopalganj Dhaka Tribune

Ramshil union parishad member Monoronjon Dhar, and his brother Bishwanath Joydhar, former BNP general secretary of Ramshil union, have been engaged in the illegal act

Blocking the natural flow of Khagbari Khal (canal), an influential family has been fish farming for eight years in Ramshil union of Kotalipara upazila, Gopalganj.

Blocking of the canal for fish farming has been hampering irrigation for paddy cultivation. It has been creating waterlogging and submerging houses and vegetable croplands in the vicinity during the rainy season.

As many as 150 farmers depending on the canal for their livelihood have been suffering. To date, no initiative has been taken to stop the illegal fish farming.

According to sources, Ramshil union parishad member Monoronjon Dhar, and his brother Bishwanath Joydhar, former BNP general secretary of Ramshil union, have been engaged in the illegal act.

To raise fish, the brothers have set up dams with bamboo, nets, and soil, at two points on the canal in front of Khagbari Bishnu Mandir (temple). They have grabbed an area of around 350 metres on the canal.

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, villagers demanded that the illegal fish farming be stopped immediately so they can irrigate and farm around 500 hectares of land with the canal water.

Bharat Chowdhury, a resident of Khagbari village, said: “From my childhood, I have been seeing  a canal flowing past the Bishnu Temple. Farmers would use the water of the canal for their Boro cultivation. Boats would also ply the canal during the rainy season. But Monoronjon Dhar and his family members have illegally occupied the canal for many years now.”

“Locals could not speak out against them as they are locally influential. If villagers try to protest, the Dhar family tortures them,” he added.

“We would commute by boat on the canal stretching from Khagbari Bishnu Temple to Joydhar Bari. We cannot commute now as a dam has been set at the mouth of the canal. We cannot even use the water of the canal for irrigation,” said another village,r Sorbanonda Mollik.

Ramshil union parishad Chairman, Khokon Bala, said: “I have heard that an influential family has been farming fish, setting up dams in the canal beside Bishu Temple. I am drawing the attention of the administration, so that the dams are demolished in the public interest.”

Claiming the canal belongs to them, BNP leader Bishwanath Joydhar, said: “We have legal documents for the place. As such, we have been raising fish making an embankment there.”

Regarding the matter, Kotalipara upazila Fisheries Officer Proshanta Kumar Sarkar, said: “Without permission, fish farming like this is illegal. We will take steps after investigation.”

Meanwhile, Kotalipara upazila Assistant Commissioner of Land (AC land) Mohasin Uddin said: “I have learned about the incident from various sources.  I will take action after inspecting the area soon.”

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