Private textile industry grabs canal
8,000-acre cropland submerged in Tangail
Sajjad Hossain Lincon
A private textile industry in Tangail has allegedly grabbed and filled a canal in government land for its infrastructural expansion, leaving around 8,000 acres of cropland submerged.
As a result, around 5,000 families, who mainly live on cultivation, have fallen into misery and are passing their days amid hardship.
It is known that, a Bangladesh Bank official and resident of the adjacent Sirajganj district Wadud Chowdhury built an industry named ‘Sadia Textile Mills’ beside the Bangabandhu Bridge-Dhaka highway at Kodimdhalya-Baniara area of Mirzapur upazila around three years ago.
For expanding the mills’ area, its authority grabbed and filled an adjacent canal with soil which is a government land. As a result, flow of water was snapped leaving around 8,000 acres of land in Goran, Baniara, Satiachara and Katra villages go under water.
While visiting the area, it was found that the people of the four villages who mainly live on agriculture, used to produce 2-3 crops in the same land every year. The grabbed canal was the only means to drain out water from the nearby lands.
But after the canal was grabbed by the mills authority, severe misery descended upon the villagers. Now, anybody visiting the area might consider it as rainy season after seeing as the stranded water on the lands. Meanwhile, some people were found to catch fish from the submerged lands on boat.
Locals said, during the initial stage of the mills’ construction, a small culvert was built on the canal, but later the construction work of the highway’s four lane structure was started closing the culvert. Later, the mills authority built two roads on the filled up canal.
Locals said, during the Ershad regime in 1982, the canal was excavated for improving the agricultural facilities for the villagers and later, the farmers benefited much from this move.
But, after the start of the mills, misery descended upon the villagers as the canal was filled. They gradually switched to other low income professions to maintain livelihood somehow.
Farhad Ali Khan of Katra village said, “My 336-decimal land is under water now. I used to produce three crops in the land every year. But, an influential person has set up the mills and for its expansion, filled the canal. As a result, many people like me have fallen into misery but there is nobody to take steps in this connection.”
Another resident Abdul Mannan said, “I used to maintain my family through producing seasonal crops and vegetables in 660 decimals of land. But, after the canal was filled up, my miserable days started.”
Other people including Mokbul Hossen Khan, Chan Mia, Hajji Refaz Uddin, Hajji Nayeb Khan and Dulal of Katra village also expressed the same and said, they complained to the mills authority several times but there was no progress in this connection. They demanded immediate solution to the current problem and let them live happily.
Local freedom fighter Anwar Hossen said, “We don’t know how we will run our families. But, the mills authority is keeping deaf to our plight. Many journalists come here and publish stories related to the problem in their respective media, but the situation remains the same.”
Former Union Parishad (UP) Member Lutfor Rahman Khan said, “My 800-decimal land is under water here. Our forefathers were farmers, and so we are not accustomed to other professions.”
Chairman of Jamurky UP Ezaz Khan Chowdhury said, “The owners of the submerged lands are yet to inform me anything about this. Not only the Sadia Textile Mills but other industries also are responsible for this current problem. I can’t say more in this connection now.”
While contacted with the owner of Sadia Textile Mills Wadud Chowdhury, he informed that not he but one Sanjita Chowdhury is the owner of the mills, and she is abroad now.
He denied any grabbing of government land and argued that the inundation is the result of the the highway’s four lane construction work.
Assistant Commissioner (Land) of Mirzapur upazila Rumana Yeasmin said, “If Sadia Textile Mills grabs land, we will take steps against them. Besides, steps will be taken so that the affected farmers can cultivate their lands as before.”
After going to the mills to talk with the authority, nobody talked to this correspondent, and one official left the spot after getting the identity of the correspondent.