The Destruction Behind the Beauty
Story & Photographs: Khaled Mahfuz Saeef
Seeing that the river water is so clear, local people compare it with the Bangla word 'dhola', which means white, and named the Dharla River. It is located in Kurigram district (northern part of Bangladesh), and comes from the river Torsa in India apparently mixing with the Brammaputra River in Lalmonirhat district. Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) is the official authority for proper maintenance of the Dhorla Bridge. There is a flower garden to add to its beauty; local, national tourists visit the place especially for boat trips and to see the clear transparent water. The bridge over the river allows easy communication and its construction was started around 1998 ending up in 2002.
Once upon a time 150 boats used to pass the river everyday but now it is a rare sight because of the 'Dharla Shetu (bridge)'. Dredging, moreover, is badly required to increase its depth. Every year, char levels emerge and poor homeless people build squatters there to live. Biodiversity of the river has already been obliterated due to the construction of the bridge and embankment. All old local trees have been felled and in their place exotic species like Shishu and Acacia have been planted. Nowadays it is incredibly unusual to find dolphins and catch 20 kg big Rui, Katla, Pangas fishes, a common phenomenon in early days. A large number of homeless people also live near the embankment. This embankment has been constructed for protecting the city from hazardous river erosion. The city is almost secluded, as the river routes have been distorted leading to river erosion in the village. The ultimate question is: are these constructions improving or destroying the lives of people.
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