The river Kirtankhola in Barishal district has been on the brink of being destroyed due to pollution and encroachment. The waste materials of factories and houses are being flown into the river. At the same time, the illegal encroachment of the river is going on recklessly. According to the estimation of port authority, there’re around 4,000 illegal occupiers of the river, but no effective steps has been seen to evict them.
On the other hand, according to Barishal Water Development Board, the river Kirtankhola, flowing beside the Barishal city, is 24 km long. The river started at the estuary of Kalabadar and Arial Kha rivers and fell into the Shugandha river of Jhalokathi district. However, the river Kirtankhola is suffering from pollution at 10 points from Rupatoli of the city to Kalibabur Kheyaghat. The wastage of the mills and factories has been falling into the river without going through any filtration process. At the same time, wastage of sewerage line and houses are also getting mixed with its water via drainage system.From the field visit, it has been found that plastic waste, polythene, human waste and waste from factories are falling into the Kirtankhola river from the mouths of other canals such as Dhan Rasima road canal, Sagardi canal, Chandmari canal, Bhatar canal, Jail canal in the area from Rupatali in the city to Kalibabur Kheyaghat. A lot of waste is also dumped from the multi-purpose raw market area and Port Road's fishing grounds. Every morning, all the waste flow from Dhaka and the launch of internal routes swept into the river. Human waste from the launch is also directly mixed with the river water.
A civic organization called Nadi-Khal Bachao Andolan had earlier identified 10 points of river pollution and requested the city corporation to take effective measures. But till today, the authorities have not taken any measures to prevent waste flowing from the canals into the river. Besides, there is a competition between the influential people to occupy the Kirtankhola river. A pharmaceutical company in Rupatali Dapadapiya Puran Ferighat area has changed the course of water flow by placing CC blocks on the north side of the river. As a result, the south bank of the river is facing extensive erosion.
Influential people have occupied a large area under the Shaheed Abdur Rab Serniabat Bridge by filling sand on the eastern side. The local influential people have illegally occupied a large area by filling the sand with blocks on the banks of the Rice Research Road. However, due to the construction of a dam across a part of the river in the name of city protection dam in Trish Godown area, the work of that dam has been stopped by the order of the High Court. The embankment, which has occupied a part of the river, remains incomplete. No authorities have taken any initiative to remove the dam till date.
In Chandmari area, many structures have been built occupying the banks of the river. The biggest illegal encroachment is in Rasulpur, created by dumping silt in the Kirtankhola. The influentials have bent the flow-path of the river to occupy it. They have rented out houses, semi-finished establishments and shacks in that pasture. From the river port to Beltala Kheyaghat, they have occupied the banks of Kirtankhola river.
BIWTA Barishal deputy director Abdur Razzak said, “The district administration has been informed to clear the illegal installations on the river banks. The district administration and BIWTA will jointly carry out the eviction of illegal structures soon.”
Barisal deputy commissioner Shahidul Islam said the district administration will cooperate with the executive magistrate if BIWTA takes the initiative to evict the illegal structures in the port area. The Environment Department will be urged to take a more effective role in stopping river pollution.
(The report was published on print and online versions of The Bangladesh Pratidin on December 8 and rewritten in English by Lutful Hoque)