The fish fry catching declared illegal by the government has become a common scenario at Chalanbill area in Sirajganj a district of Bangladesh.
Local people said that the bridges eight and nine of Tarash area and the underground culvert numbers – 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39 are occupied by cotton and current nets owners destroying the fish resources of the country.
A section of unscrupulous people have occupied the areas making bamboo fences, which have been slowing down the flow of water as well as threatening the bridge to collapse.
Meanwhile, both the eastern and western sides of bridge number eight have gone down by nearly 5 feet due to the tying of the bamboo fences with the bridge.
Chalanbill combines some parts of Sirajganj, Pabna, Bogra, Natore, Rajshahi and Naogaon, which were once known as the fish store of northern region.
Sources of fisheries department said that nearly 55 species of sweet water fishes have gone extinct from Chalanbill where paddy and fish grow at the same time.
Locals said that nearly 12 metric tons of fishes are caught in every season while it was around 30,000 metric tons in the recent past.
Though there are about 7000 fishermen, the Chalanbill has experienced near 50,000 fishermen in the season, they added.
There are eight kharies, around 100 beels and nearly 10,000 ponds in Chalanbill. The large areas of then are now grabbed by the local influentials.
On the other hand, the different wholesale markets of fish emerged in Mohishluti, Mannannagar and Sirajganj area, which have transacted fish worth TK 20 to 25 lakh per day catching different types of fish including fries in defiance of the law of the land.
Meanwhile, local people alleged that nearly 80 influential people including a UP chairman are involved in the misdeeds.
When contacted, district fisheries officer Md. Aminul Haque admitted the involvement of the UP chairman in the illegal fish fry catching and said after failing to take initiative against him (UP chairman), he (Aminul Haque) brought the issue to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner, the Tarash upazila Nirbahi Officer and OC of the thana. No steps have so far been taken against them, since they have connections with high-ups.
On the other hand, while BDNEWS contacted Md. Badruzzaman Manik, the Fisheries Officer of Tarash, Md. Julfiquar Ali, OC of Tarash and Mahbub Shahin, the upazila Nirbahi Official of Tarash, they blamed each other for the illegal fish fry catching and grabbing of government land.
Md. Abdul Gaffar, executive engineer of Natore highway, told that the normal flow of the water was obstructed due to the bamboo fencing under the culvert.
On the other hand, the local people urged the concerned authority to take necessary steps to save different types of fishes in the Chalanbill.