Once the fast-flowing river Chandana is almost dried up and there is knee-deep water somewhere.
The places where there is water are also polluted for garbage dumped by the locals. Many influential people are building residential multi-storied buildings by occupying the banks of the river. Waste and sewage of the neighbourhood of the river are falling into the river alarmingly polluting water.
Chandana originated from the river Padma. The river is bounded on the northwest by Pangsha-Kalukhali-Baliakandi upazila of Rajbari district. Once big Pansy boats used to sail in the river. But the river has now turned into a canal. During the monsoon, there is water in the river for a few days but no water is seen almost all year-round.
Influential quarters are taking advantage of this opportunity to occupy both sides of the river and building multi-storied residential buildings. Due to illegal occupants, the river is constantly shrinking and now it has turned into a canal.
Abbas Ali, an old man from Pangsha Upazila, said, "Once, various boats including Pansy and Dinghy used to ply this river." But because of the occupiers, the river has now turned into a canal. At the same time, many influential occupiers have started farming in the riverbed.
Salam Sheikh of Kalukhali Upazila said, "I saw many people fishing in the Chandana river when they were young. Besides, he used the river water for various purposes including irrigation in the agricultural lands on both sides of the river and bathing of cattle. But now there is no water. As much as there is, it is unusable.
Another man Palash Hossain said the river is now almost dead because of the occupiers. Although dredging was done a few years ago to bring back the navigability of the river, it is not working. Now there is no water even in the rainy season.
According to the Water Development Board, at one time the width of the Chandana river was about 200 feet. At present, it stands at 80 to 100 feet. Besides, the Water Development Board has 16 acres of land in Rajbari. However, there is no information on how much land has been occupied.
Abdul Ahad, the executive engineer of the Rajbari Water Development Board, said he was not aware of the occupation of the Chandana river. He was the first to know from the journalists. He later advised them to lodge a complaint with the deputy commissioner's office. After receiving a copy of the complaint from the Deputy Commissioner's Office, he will accompany the complainant to inspect the occupied area. The Water Development Board will take action against the occupiers if the river occupation is found, he added.