Varieties of lentils and sugarcane cultivated on the widespread shoals
The once vibrant Dhaleshwari is on the verge of death as most parts of the river remain dry for at least seven months a year in Tangail Sadar upazila.
Sources at Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), Tangail, say that even in the rainy season, the river resembles a dwindling canal due to the continuous soil and mud sedimentation of its bed.
Tangail BWDB Executive Engineer Sirajul Islam said: “Reports from 2010 to 2019 show that the passage for water to pass from Jamuna to Dhaleshwari rose in height. Mainly due to floods, which caused soil and mud sedimentation over the years.
“Because of sediments blocking the passage, there is normally little water in the river in the dry season. Project allotments are underway to bring back the river to its former glory.”
Abdul Alim, a villager who lives on the riverbank, said: "Dhaleshwari was deep and had strong currents before the massive flood of 1988. As time passed, the river's depth and width reduced drastically and shoals (char) formed."
Some locals in Tangail Sadar fear that the Dhaleshwari will cease to exist unless dredging is done very soon.
On a visit to Golchattar area in Sadar upazila, this correspondent found that large portions of the river have turned into vast shoals.
Varieties of lentils and sugarcane are being cultivated on the river shoals. Here and there, water-filled channels give away the fact that the dried portions are actually part of the river.
Boats were tied along the shoals, while people were easily crossing the river on foot or on vehicles as it was dried up in most parts.
During British colonial rule, large ships used to transport passengers and goods to Kolkata on the
Dhaleshwari water routes almost all year round.
However, in recent years, boats slither across the shallow river, even in the rainy season.
Rejaul Karim of Makarkol village said: "Less than 10 years ago, mechanised boats provided a very unsteady experience due to the strong currents. Now, the river has lost its form."