Who will save the Kopotakkho river?

Smokes belch out from garbage alighted along river KopotakkhoCollected photo

Kopotakkho, one of the major rivers of Bangladesh’s southern part, is almost dead today.

The 238km river originated in Chougachha, Jashore flows across Jhenaidah and Khulna.

Once, the glorious river was used for transportation, businesses and for so many purposes. The famous molasses from Maheshpur upazila of Jhinaidah was transported through this river. During the British era the molasses would be carried to London via the Kopotakkho that stretched towards Kolkata. Launches, steamers would travel to the Indian city via this river.

But the river has dried up; there is hardly water across the river when water hyacinths clog at places. There are no longer any high or low tides.

River encroachment, filling, and siltation have rendered the river almost lifeless. Garbage is thrown in the river in every way.

Also unplanned agriculture, construction of buildings, culvert and embankment obstructed the Kopotakkho’s flow.

Boats at dried bed of Kopotakkho river where water hyacinths and rice have grown.
Collected photo

The water is losing its natural quality when aquatic animals are being threatened. But this is the river that once made the city prosperous. It contributed to its agriculture and fishery.

Though the government took an initiative to dredge the river in 2011, no progress has been seen yet.

There is a High Court rule seeking a list of illegal river encroachers from every union, upazila and district. The list would identify the rivers that were grabbed and required recovery.

Kopotakkho is a river that commemorates poet Madhusudan Dutt. The river must be saved. Encroached sections must be restored. Dredging and cleaning of garbage should be carried out.

The flow of water must be increased and its quality should be retained, but who will take on the initiative?

*The writer is a teacher in profession. This piece has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin.