Contractor company Max-Ranken has built a dam below the under-construction bridge on Bhairab river in Jessore's Abhaynagar, changing the course of the river.
This dam has caused a char (sand bar) to be emerged on one side side of the river, erosion on the other side.
Director of Noapara launch terminal, Masud Parvez, said the company was supposed to construct the bridge, using a a floating pontoon.
“Instead they built a dam 200 feet long and 60 feet wide in the river, forcing the river to change its course. The dam has obstructed cargo and barges from plying through the river,” he told Prothom Alo.
He added, “We sent a letter to the contractors to remove the dam. At first they didn’t pay any heed. They removed some soil from the dam on Wednesday, but that won't solve the problem.”
The contractors Max-Ranken removed a part of the dam on Wednesday.
On 13 August, over 100 people of Abhaynagar’s Masharhati sent an application to the upazila nirbahi officer to remove the dam to prevent river erosion.
Earlier on 30 April, the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), too, sent a letter to Max-Ranken to demolish the dam.
According to the Local Government Engineering Department, construction work of the bridge started on 30 November, 2014 and it is supposed to be completed in March, 2018.
Former chairman of Sreedharpur union parishad said when the construction of the bridge began, pillar 13 was located on the bank but it is now in the middle of the river due to erosion. Erosion has also swallowed around six acres of land.
“I have lost around 84 decimals of land,” said Amjad Hossain, a resident of Deyapara village.
Abul Hossain of Masharhati village said the river has almost died due to the bridge construction.
Visiting the site, this correspondent found the river changing its course and now flows around pillars 12 and 13.
LGED upazila engineer Kamrul Islam Sardar said, “We have told the contractors to remove the dam.”
Max-Ranken project director Jahangir Hossain told Prothom Alo, “We didn’t build any dam. There was a char in the river before. The river changed its course when we started the work.”
The BIWTA dredged the river in an unplanned way and this is why the char emerged, he alleged.
UNO MM Mahmudur Rahman said, “There is no scope to build a dam in the middle of a river. We’ve directed the contractors and BIWTA to build a guide wall there.”
*The article originally published in Prothom Alo print edition has been rewritten in English by Imam Hossain