Shofiqul Bhuiyan, Jamalpur: The Khashrota river flowing through Sarishabari of Jamalpur district is Subarnakhali. Due to the negligence of the administration, pollution of the river and the greed of the encroachers to build illegal structures, Suvarnakhali has lost its beauty and youth and has now become a dead canal. A few months ago, when the news was broadcast and published in different titles of the private electronic and print media of the country, the matter created quite a stir in the conscious circles.
According to local residents, “Even though the news about Suvarnakhali has been published for a long time, the administration has not taken action, they see it through a tin glass”. Locals complain of illegal construction, pollution of private hospital diagnostic center, lack of renovation for a long time and the traditional river has lost its youth and has now become a dead canal.
According to historical research, this traditional river flowing through Sarishabari in Jamalpur district used to flow through Champakli Cinema Hall in Sarishabari Municipality and through Pingna Union and Gopalpur in Tangail. Subarnakhali was the main river of Jamalpur until the river Yamuna, the downstream of Brahmaputra, originated from Jhenai canal in Dewanganj upazila due to severe earthquake and floods of 1782 to 1787. Not only the main river, Suvarnakhali was once a famous river port on the banks of the Yamuna. At that time steamers from Assam and Calcutta used to come to Subarnakhali due to easy communication with Calcutta. The railway line was extended from Mymensingh to Jagannathganj Ghat in 1905 with the initiative and efforts of some Hindu zamindars including Hemchandra Chowdhury, the zamindar of Hemnagar in Tangail. Which facilitates the connection of Calcutta with Dhaka by rail and steamer. Zamindar Hembabu arranges travel by tomtom or palanquin on the five kilometer road from Subarnakhali to Jagannathganj Ghat of Sarishabari upazila. In the last decade of the 20th century, the Yamuna destroyed the river port of Suvarnakhali and the palace of Hemchandra. Suvarnakhali has lost its tradition due to the encroachment and today it is struggling to sustain its existence under the name Sonamui/Sonamukhi.
Locals have complained that due to the lack of monitoring by the administration, the local influentials have taken over the river and built various paved structures by setting up pillars and ignoring the water conservation law. Many such structures are being built one after another occupying the banks of the river adjacent to Sarishabari municipality. Even clinics, diagnostic centers have been built around the Sarishabari Upazila Health Complex. The river water is also being polluted by the dumping of garbage (such as unbroken knives, scissors, series, suds etc.) of the diagnostic centers. Dumping of garbage from various institutions is filling up the river, thereby depleting the depth of the river.
The locals said that once this river was a flowing river. It was the main river of Jamalpur before the birth of Jhenai and Brahmaputra. Numerous sailing boats laden with cargo steamers used to ply the river. In ancient times, this river route was one of the means of human trade. This traditional river has lost its youth due to the invasion of the dominant land-dwellers and is now struggling to maintain its existence. The local administration does not have any special monitoring in this regard.
A local man named Shamim Uddin said, once we used to hunt fish in this river. Now everyone is afraid to come down here because of the garbage of the clinic. As the water is polluted, people get skin diseases when they come here. No one comes here to fish or bathe.”
Another local named Abdul Aziz said, “There was a time when big ships used to come here. The current in the river was very high. But due to the construction of the dam on the northern side of the river, the current has decreased. Therefore, the garbage thrown by the people does not go south to the Arbajana river but falls here for a long time, reducing the depth of the river. He also said that once the width of the river was also very wide, the encroachers have removed the soil and built various structures, so now it has become a canal without a river. There is still time if the administration takes measures, maybe Subarnakhali will be able to sustain itself”.
District Administrator and District Magistrate Sravasti Roy told Muslim Times, “A case has been registered regarding illegal encroachment. And the Department of Environment has been given the responsibility to deal with pollution and pollution”.