The river Titas described in Adwaita Mallabarman's 'Titas Ekti Nadir Naam' or 'A River called Titas' - later made into a film by Ritwik Ghatak - has undergone a sea-change in reality over the years, and is now a narrow canal due to illegal occupation and a navigability crisis.
The book cover and the contents of the novel evokes images of a mighty river and busy fishermen.
However, the chars or river islands have turned the river into grazing land in some spots, changing this image radically.
The authorities hve said dredging is going on to revive the river and soon an eviction drive will be taken up against illegal grabbers.
Visiting Ananda Bazar, Medda, Shimrail Kandi and Ujanisha, the UNB correspondent found local influential people have illegally built many structures on the river banks, including several high-rise buildings, narrowing the river.
Locals said they use to wake to the fishermen's cries at dawn. Now the river-based businesses, agriculture and livelihood are all under threat, they added.
Fisherman Robi Das said, "Titas is not a river anymore as it was in the past. Due to less water, we cannot catch enough fish to earn a living."
Another fisherman, Kajol Das said, "I could catch fish whenever I cast my net, now we rarely get any fish from Titas."
Siraj Mia, a launch driver, said, "I've been plying vessels for the last 40 years on this river. Now it is hard to navigate as it has turned into a narrow canal."
The movement of vessels may halt any time in Titas due to extreme navigability crisis, he added.
Local river commuters said, it takes much more time now to move from one place to another.
The people living on the river banks demanded immediate steps to stop the illegal grabbing, adding that already many buildings have been built by grabbers who have taken over parts of the river.
Brahmanbaria Water Development Board executive engineer Gouripada Sutradhan said, "River dredging will free the course of the river."
Expecting socio-economic development of the area, he added that the navigability of the river Titas will be restored once the dredging project is implemented.
Deputy commissioner Hayat-Ud-Dowllah Khan said that people living on Titas's banks have occupied the land by building structures in different spots.
"We've already made a list of 623 grabbers and sent it to the relevant ministry. An eviction drive will start soon," the DC added.
Khan said sediment and sand have filled up the riverbed along a stretch of 103km, of the 110km that flows through Brahmanbaria.