Century-old Munshiganj canal chokes, neglected

The Mirkadim canal of Munshiganj, a nearly century-old waterway that once ran gracefully alongside the flowing Dhaleswari river, has now fallen into a state of neglect and despair, rendering it lifeless even during the monsoon season.

This tragic situation has arisen due to the alleged prolonged indifference of municipal authorities, the illegal encroachments by local influential figures, and the rampant dumping of garbage throughout the canal’s stretch, bringing the main waterway in the municipal area to the brink of extinction.The commercial activities at Kamalghat port, once renowned as the second Kolkata, have come to a complete standstill due to this environmental catastrophe.

Last year, the district administration took a step to remedy the situation, conducting a two-day operation in February 2022, during which approximately four and a half hundred illegal structures were removed from the canal’s banks under the supervision of the executive magistrate.

The plan included the dredging of the canal to restore water flow. However, to the dismay of the locals, the plan remains unimplemented, and within a year, portions of the canal have been reclaimed by influential individuals.

Garbage disposal at the canal’s entrance has obstructed the water flow, causing the once-vibrant waterway to deteriorate into a lifeless drain. According to information from the district administration, nearly a century ago, about 95 percent of the canal’s water flow was normal, enabling small and medium vessels to easily access the canal from the Dhaleswari river and dock at Kamala Ghat commercial port. However, within a few short years, the clear, flowing waters of the canal have been reduced to a sad state.

On one side, multi-storied buildings now cover about two and a half kilometers, while furniture manufacturing factories and wooden door and window sales businesses occupy the other side. Additionally, another water inlet from the Dhaleswari river to the canal in the Rikabibazar Nai-Dighi Pathar area has been blocked by piles of garbage, preventing small engine-driven trawlers and boats from accessing the canal.

In addition, despite the presence of six paved bridges for vehicle crossings, people are resorting to makeshift wooden planks to traverse different parts of the canal.

Residents have expressed their distress over the deteriorating state of the canal. Nuru Mia, a local furniture trader, recalled how the canal’s water was once crucial in saving traders during two consecutive fires that broke out in the Kathpatti area.

The fire service personnel relied on the canal’s water to extinguish the flames in the furniture factories and businesses. He strongly urged authorities to dig the canal and restore its water flow as it was before.

Babul Akhtar, a senior rice trader in the Kamala Ghat port area, shared nostalgic memories of the bustling port that attracted traders from various places, especially those coming by sea from Dhaka and neighboring districts.

Bangladesh Post

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