The peace and tranquility of the Kopotakkho River that inspired Michael Madhusudhan Dutta to pen a famous tribute (Kopotakkho Nod) in the 19th century is today nowhere to be found along its course.
Now, it has nothing to offer except constant worries to the people living along its banks with its frequent course changes and unpredictable erosion patterns.
During a recent visit, the UNB correspondent found Ramnathpur, Habibnagar, Dorgamahal and Malot areas in Paikgachha upazila beside the river reeling under the threat of erosion.
“We sometimes wake up in the morning hearing the sound of the river devouring its bank,” said Kalidasi Biswas, wife of Dinabandhu Biswas in Habibnagar. “Erosion forced us to move houses four times since my marriage.”
Fishermen Mahitosh, Anath Biswas and Ashim Kumar Mondol of Ramnathpur area said they have to stay in the sea from October to March. During this period, they said they remain worried as the river can devour their houses any time.
Every year, some of the fishermen return from the sea to find their ancestral homes gone.
“The authorities concerned are yet to take any action to protect us,” Ashim said. “They’re contributing to the changes in course of the river by dredging it.”
Abu Jafar Siddique, Chairman of Haridhali Union Parishad, said erosion has changed the landscape. “It’s completely different from what I saw in my childhood,” he said.
The Water Development Board, which is responsible for building and maintaining protective embankments, has been trying to stop the erosion, according to the UP chairman, but he admitted that there has been no visible progress.
Local parliamentarian Md Akhtaruzzaman Babu told UNB that he has already spoken with the WDB about river erosion.
“We’re trying to prevent erosion as soon as possible,” he said. “I’ll raise the issue in Parliament to protect the river and the people.”
The Kopotakkho River requires permanent embankment and sustainable piling with a long term vision, he added. “Until then, it’ll continue to defy the immortal words penned in its honour by Michael Madhushudhan.