The once mighty river now resembles a dwindling canal
Dhaleshwari, a river once overflowing with water, now hosts tractors instead of commercial ships and boats. In the dry season, motorcycles and tractors ply the newly-developed river islands.
Sources said due to the Dhaleshwari river drying up, the livelihoods of the Tangail locals—who inhabit the riverbank area—have changed drastically. Before, mostly fishermen inhabited the areas around the river. Many different kinds of fish were readily available but are no-longer due to a water shortage.
Local farmers are also having to adjust to the water shortage. Tobacco farming is more profitable for the farmers at times like these, hence they are doing just that. In the process they are using excessive amounts of fertilizer and pesticides, harming the ecosystem.
The river has dried up so badly, it bears more resemblance to a dwindling canal. Some parts of the river have completely dried while others sport a weak stream, at best.
The 292-kilometre-long river used to have an average depth of 122 feet. However, due to a lack of dredging in the past couple of years, the river is now ten feet deep at its peak.
Because the river is shallow, when its riverbed is filled with water, massive amounts of land from both sides of the riverbank are washed away.
Although the Shamsul Haque Bridge and the Sheikh Hasina Bridge have been built, there has still been no dredging to improve the depth of the river.
Locals residing near the Dhaleshwari expressed their concerns and said unless dredging is done very soon, the river will change its course and render the newly-constructed Sheikh Hasina Bridge useless.
Local MP in Tangail Ahsanul Islam Titu said: “I swore during my election campaign that I would restore the river to its former glory. We are steadily working towards that very goal.
“We have already started dredging the river to increase its depth. We hope to restore the Dhaleshwari river to its previous state as soon as possible.”