Paths crossed by boat in the monsoon are foot worn for miles in the dry season
People who inhabit char areas are said to have skin thicker than most, as they routinely have their homes washed away by unforgiving rivers. However, in the dry season, their predicament takes on a different form.
Multiple new chars or sandbanks have turned up on the Jamuna River in Bhuapur upazila of Tangail. From a distance, each char looks like a mini island. Since the river has dried up, exposing the char, the lives of people who depend on the Jamuna River for transportation on a day to day basis, have gotten significantly harder.
The locals are unable to travel by boat, which frequently get stuck on the new chars.
The newly formed chars are in the Gabsara and Arjuna union of the upazila. In the monsoon, the river changes course and causes erosion, leaving hundreds of people homeless with little land in sight. In the dry season, the same areas turn up again, causing hindrance in river transportation. Paths crossed by boat in the monsoon have to be crossed on foot for miles in the dry season.
Temporary islands and embankment areas, or chars of the Jamuna River, are extremely fickle. Locals cannot rely on them for housing or business as flooding and river erosion is a very common event.
Only a few boats traverse the area, limiting the opportunity for transport. Since there is no set landing spot, passengers are dropped off at random points, further complicating their travel.
Rafikul Islam, a teacher at Gabsara Madrasa, said: “It is easier to go places when the river has enough water. I am able to reach the madrasa with ease by boat. But now, I have to cross the river and then walk two kilometres twice daily.
“We are all facing trouble with transportation every day.”
It is tremendously difficult to get people help when they are sick. Transporting the elderly and ill in order to get them necessary medical attention is extremely laborious in these areas.
Headmaster of Shoalchandini Government Primary School Nazmul Islam said: “The Jamuna River has essentially turned into a dead, dry canal. Boats get stuck in the middle of the river too often. The dry season is not kind to us.”
Executive Engineer Mahfuzur Rahman of Bangladesh Water Development Board in Tangail said: “Currently we do not have any ongoing water development projects in Bhuapur Upazila. We had previously sent plans and projects to the authorities but they were not approved.
“However, we have started work in some areas of Kuthiboyra to cut down erosion in the upcoming monsoon season.”