Black clouds hovered over Ulania, a serene, silvavan village of Barisal last Friday, threatening more rains. Thousands of residents of Ulania , witnessed hundreds of acres of lands being devoured on the bank of mighty River Meghna.
In 20 minutes on Friday evening, thousands of betel-nut trees in 300 metres of green plantation was gobbled up by the cruel river.
Ulania , in Mehendiganj is literally an isle in Barisal. Rivers are all round the Mehendiganj, cut off from the mainland.
Among the 13 unions of Mehendiganj, one union Gobindapur, was devoured by the river four years ago. After gobbling Gobindapur, now the river Meghna has spread its deadly fangs towards Ulania .
Local MP Pankaj Nath who hopped from ministry to ministry for getting funds sanctioned to protect the area which has historical importance. Besides, a committee to protect riverbank erosion of Ulania headed by Prof Shafiur Rahman and acclaimed poet Asad Chowdhury have turned all stones to save the village.
On 30 June, 2012 the residents of beleaguered Ulania organised a human-chain in front of National Press Club in Dhaka to bring the problem to the notice of the government to save Ulania, home to 10,000 people.
The committee did not wait for the government aid. They raised 80 lakh taka to protect the place and dumped sand-filled geo-bags.
Water Resource Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen, State Minister for Water Resource Mehboobur Rahman, Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan and lawmakers visited Ulania .
All of them promised to lend official support to protect Ulania .
The contracts were given to four contractors for placing concrete blocks along the riverbanks.
Experts opined to place concrete blocks along 800 metres of the riverbank on each side, or else the work would not yield positive result.
In last two years, no new contacts were given, despite lobbying with the ministries and departments concerned.
Minister of Road Transport and Bridges Obaidul Quader and Water Resource Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud visited Ulania Coronation High School centenary function event last December.
An appeal by celebrated litterateur Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury was addressed to the two ministers. He said that every time he visits Bangladesh, he offers prayer to his father and mother's grave. "Please save the graves of our ancestors," pleaded Gaffar Chowdhury, who lives in England.
Since the ministers returned to capital Dhaka, there has been no progress. In fact the committee leaders do not see light at the end of the tunnel.
At the last spell, Barisal District Commissioner Dr Gazi Safiuzzaman ordered Water Development Board to urgently protect Ulania and declare emergency. Engineer Azizul Haque allocated 90 lakh taka, but the residents are having sleepless night as they do not believe the budget would protect them.
The residents of Ulania demanded that the government should sanction Taka 50 crore, or else Ulania could not be saved from being swallowed by Meghna. Among others things, the historical Ulania Jamindar Bari and the century- old Taj-Mahal pattern mosque along with Ulania bazar and scores of government and private establishments went deep down the wild Meghna river.