A barbed-wire strung up by a private solar power company around the only road leading to Shoulmari char in Lalmonirhat has proved to be the bane of the residents of the riverine island.
The residents of the char on the Teesta river say the man-made obstacle has made their lives miserable. Their repeated requests to the authorities for getting the barbed wire removed have only fallen on deaf ears.
"Walking to school is virtually a daily battle for both teachers and students," says Eti Moni, an assistant teacher at Shoulmari Government Primary School.
"The private solar power company has closed the road by putting up the barbed-wire fence, ignoring the fact that it's the only stretch connecting our char on the Teesta with other parts of the upazila," she adds.
The residents of the char say they have to bend down to cross the barbed-wire fence and often their clothes get stuck to it.
Saniur Rahman Suny, another teacher, says that they have no option but to use the road as it's kind of a shortcut to the school. "Else we would have to take a 1.5km detour. Life is literally a challenge for us."
Other residents of the char narrate a similar tale of woes and they now urge Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to put an end to their plight.
Ahadul Hossain Chowdhury, chairman of Bhotmari union, says he has approached multiple authorities in the past, including the district administration, but "no one seems to be interested in our grievances".
UNB has learned that Intraco Solar Power Ltd has signed an agreement with the Power Development Board to set up a 30 MW solar power plant in Gangachara of Rangpur district some four years back.
Subsequently, Paramount BTrac Energy Ltd purchased the share of Intraco and decided to install the power plant at Shoulmari char in Kaliganj upazila of Lalmonirhat instead of Rangpur.
Uttam Roy, an official of Paramount, however, refutes the allegations of the char residents. "We have already constructed an alternative road for the local residents."