• Thursday, Dec 08, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

The devastating plight of Satkhira's coastal fish farmers

  • Published at 03:10 pm April 5th, 2021
Satkhira tidal wave fish farmer losses
Their hope was to start fishing in a month, sell their produce and pay back the money and loan of their leased land Dhaka Tribune

They are now desolate and fail to comprehend how they will recuperate their losses

Ruhul Amin Sardar had high hopes for his fish farming business. 

After taking a loan from an NGO, he leased 6-bigha land to farm fish last year. 

But when the Kholpetua river broke through the embankment on March 29 flooding everything in sight, Ruhul Amin's hopes went up in smoke. Hundreds of coastal fish farmers like Ruhul Amin suffered a similar fate; all left destitute by the flooding. 

Many like him, do not own any farmland but only an ancestral homestead.

According to the fish farmers, the collapse of the ring dam of Dayar Ghat in Asashuni has devastated the fishing enclosures adjacent to the Kholpetua River.

Among those who suffered the most, Mahitur Rahman, owner of Bagda Shrimp Farm in Sadar Union, lost 20 bighas of fishing enclosures, Prof Bazlur Rahman lost 55 bighas, Dipan Kumar Mandal lost 6 bighas, Abdus Salam lost 15 bighas, Khokon Gazi lost 8 bighas, Mafizul Islam Lincoln lost 6 bighas, Shariful Islam Tokon lost 11 bighas, Solaiman Haque Kajal lost 4 bighas, Sadiq Anwar Chatur lost 10 bighas, and Azizul Islam Chotan lost 7 bighas.

Also, several hundreds of shrimp enclosures were washed away, causing losses in several crores.

The owners of jumbo (Bagda) shrimp farms said that some of them have taken loans from banks, some of them have taken loans from cooperatives and some borrowed money to pay half of the land's value for setting up their enclosures.

Their hope was to start fishing in a month, sell their produce and pay back the money and loan of their leased land.

But on March 29, their dream came to an end when a supertide washed away their enclosures while breaking the dam.

They are now desolate and fail to comprehend how they will recuperate their losses.

The owners of the damaged enclosures have sought the full support of the government for financial assistance so that they can repay the loan on easy terms without interest and continue to cultivate fish.

Asked about this, Asashuni Upazila Fisheries Officer Shahid Saikat Mallick said that shrimp is cultivated in 5,000 hectares of land in the upazila and the number of shrimp farms is 13,179. In the middle of this, 315 fences of 360 hectares of land have been flooded in Asashuni Sadar Union.

"We have listed the owners of the damaged enclosures and sent them to the government high office for necessary action," he added.

Asashuni Upazila Parishad Chairman ABM Mostakim said that the plight of the fish and shrimp farmers in the area have not changed a bit, thanks to their rotten luck.

The embankment of the 1960s no longer exists, but concerned officials are also not available at monthly meetings. The locals voluntarily build a ring dam every time, but they easily collapse. A lot of makeshift dams have been built and washed away, without officials ever asserting the need of building a proper dam, he added.

Meanwhile, five villages of Burigoalini Union in Shyamnagar Upazila have been inundated due to the collapse of the Coastal Protection Dam of the Water Development Board.

This situation occurred when about 200 feet of dam in the western Durgabati area of Boulder No 5 adjacent to the cyclone shelter sank into the Kholpetua River.

Hundreds of freshwater ponds, including shrimp farms of about 7,000 bighas of land, have been submerged due to tidal flow in the locality along the river with the eroded part.

About 6,000 people were stranded and more than 300 houses were flooded.

Senior Water Development Board officials, including local MP SM Jaglul Haider, visited the eroded area and said that the embankment had eroded the coastal shrimp farmers.

They immediately drew the attention of the government to resolve the issue.

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