Chitra river rots with jute

August 7, 2011

A portion of the Chitra river has become seriously polluted, as farmers are rotting jute plants in it.
The pollution that extends some 40km on both sides of the river very badly affected nearly 40,000 people of Narail sadar and Kalia upazilas of the district.
Fishes and other aquatic creatures are dying in hundreds, and their decomposed bodies are making the situation worse for the locals.
Those living by the bank cannot go near the water they were habituated to use for cooking, drinking, washing and bathing until three months ago. The water reeks of dead fish and rotten jute smells, locals said.
Other water bodies such as ponds, canals, beels and marshy lands in the area have also been filled with jute plants to rot.
Farmers rot jute in the Chitra every year. But this year the water level has gone down for lack of rain. Slow current for lack of water has created a near water stagnation situation in the river, making it hard for the polluted water to flow away.
“The Chitra water is unusable now, besides fishes and other aquatic creatures are dying for lack of oxygen,” said Borun Kumer Biswas, associate professor of biology at Narail Government Victoria College.
Farmers were trained and advised to use “ribbon method” for rotting jute, said Banik Ram Krishna, deputy director of Department of Agriculture Extension in Narail.
Rotting jute in ditches dug in yard or field using urea and small amount of water is called ribbon method. It saves rivers and other water bodies from pollution.
However, during a recent visit in the area this correspondent found that no farmers were using the method. A number of them alleged they never heard about the system.
The river pollution has also hit the local fishermen hard. Life has become difficult for them as they lost their income source.
Sukumar Malo and Subod Malo — two fishermen from Pangkovila village — said they are struggling to manage their families for the last few months.
“We cannot fish in the river as it is filled with jute plants. Our earnings have stopped,” said Narayan Roy, another fisherman from sadar upazila.


Courtesy of The Daily Star

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