Thousands of people of Char region have to cross at risk due to the suspension of launch movement at Balasi Ghat of Gaibandha due to navigability crisis in Brahmaputra river. As a result, the people of those areas have to risk their lives by risking their lives in boats with shallow engines. Meanwhile, those boats carry more passengers than their capacity in the hope of more profit. The people of the area and the victims fear that the boat will sink at any time. At the same time, it is difficult to cross in an open-roofed boat with sunburn. Such a picture can be seen in the Balasi Ghat area of Phulchari Upazila of the district. It was seen on the ground that the passengers in small boats are running to their respective destinations in piles of small boats. These boats have no canopy, no security system. Due to lack of space, many are waiting on the river bank for the next boat. The same is the case with all the boats that are coming to the shore from the other side. The victims said that they are running for their livelihood. As the water depth has decreased, the launch movement has stopped but the livelihood has not stopped. People from all walks of life including school students, patients, women and children are being forced to travel by risking the boat. The fare is relatively high. Along with this, the boatmen are carrying more passengers than their capacity in the hope of extra profit. As a result, the passengers have complained that they are being forced to travel at the risk of their lives. They also said that the fare is 250 taka per person from Balasi to Bahadurabad Ghat. There are no passenger facilities in the boat even though the fare is high. There is no passenger canopy or umbrella system. You have to get sunburned. Children, old people and women have to suffer in this. The driver of River Star Launch, Khokon Mia, said that the launch is stopped due to the navigability crisis. As a result, he has been sitting on the wharf for 8 months. He said that a medium-sized launch should be at least 6 feet deep in the river. But the depth of water is three to four feet in various places of Brahmaputra. Launch movement is impossible in this condition. However, if the water depth increases, the launch will start moving.
Badal Miah, the lessee of Balasighat, said that the pressure of passengers on the boat has increased due to the suspension of the launch. 15-20 small and big boats ply on this route every day. General Secretary of Balasi-Bahadurabad Launch Owners Association Arif Mia said that since the inauguration, three launches were regularly plying from Balasighat every day. Each launch has a capacity of 150 passengers. It took two and a half hours to go and two and a half hours to come. Even if the fare is Tk 120 per person, the increase in oil price is fixed at Tk 200. But due to the navigability crisis, the launch cannot be carried out. A dredger has been requested from the BIWTA authorities to normalize the launch movement. It is not possible to launch on this route without regular dredging. Incidentally, the British government launched the Tistamukhghat in Phulchari upazila of Gaibandhar and Bahadurabad in Jamalpur district in 1938. At that time, the people of 8 districts of this region used to go to Dhaka via Tistamukh Ghat by train. The distance was reduced by three to four hours. Then in 1990, due to the navigability of the river, Tistamukh Ghat was transferred to Balasi in the same upazila. For this, a new railway line of about six kilometers was constructed from Trimohini to Balasi at a cost of about 30 crore rupees. At that time, the railway communication system was also running through the Balasi-Bahadurabad route. Since 1996, due to the decrease in navigability of the river, the railway ferry service on the Balasi-Bahadurabad route was about to be stopped. In June 1998, the Yamuna multi-purpose bridge was commissioned. As a result, the railway ferry service stopped on this route since 2000. Since then, the ferry service on the Balasi-Bahadurabad route was closed for almost 22 years. After a long time, the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) launched the launch service on the Balasi-Bahadurabad route on April 9 last year. For this, the naval terminal was constructed at a cost of Tk 145 crore on both sides. But even though the much expected launch service of Gaibandha residents has been launched, it is not working according to the residents of the area.