40,000 men without women live in that char!

Boats are coming from deep seas and rivers in small canals. The net is being pulled from there. Fish caught in nets are being kept in baskets. Someone is crossing a small wooden jetty and descending on a ‘fish-filled basket’. Those fish are going to the yard. A huge work around.

Dubla is the largest shuntakipalli of about 61 square miles inside the Sundarbans. Location of this village with five chars on the Bay of Bengal coast. Rivers of Kunga and dead animals have flowed along the char.

In the char, which is 65 nautical miles away from the locality of Mongla and Sharankhola upazilas, fish harvesting and drying work takes place in the last week of October or from November to March every year. The rest of the year is lifeless.

In Dublarchar, Alorkol, Narkelbaria, Shelarchar and Meherali Chars of Sharankhola Range of East Sundarbans Division, about 40,000 fishermen and herdsmen live in ‘temporary houses’ in temporary dry villages with fixed revenue to Forest Department.

At that time fishermen used to catch shrimps and crabs along with marine white fish with about 30 types of nets. This activity of Dublarchar from Kartik to Chaitra is called ‘Gon’ of fish in the language of fishermen.

Although there are about half a million people living in Char, there are no women. Men do all the housework starting from cooking. The men of this char are very skilled in housework.

One morning in Kartik, they visited the char and came to know about the various superstitions that have affected the lives of the people here. No woman is brought or allowed to stay in this char. The temporary residents of the char believe that if women go there, the huge fishing arrangements around the char will ebb.

It was seen in Shuntakipalli that fishermen from different parts of the country had gathered there. After procuring different species of fish from Samudramohana, he is bringing them to Dublachar Ghat. These fish are going to the yard. The wholesalers buy fish from there and take it to Shuntkipalli near New Market in Char and dry it in the sun and process it. Fishermen live in small houses there.

At least 100 species of dried fish including loita, churi, shrimp, rupchanda, khalisa, isha, veda and poya are produced in the huge shuntkipalli formed on Dublar Char. For the last three years, extortion by bandits has been stopped in Shuntakipalli of Dublar Char. Dryness is being processed on Dublar Char in a very festive and safe environment.

This isolated char is mainly known as Jale and Shuntkipalli. Hindus have a special identity for Rasmela and Punyasnan. Dublarchar stays awake every year for the next five months from Kartik. Apart from the Bay of Bengal, there is a huge workload around the fish caught from the rivers adjoining the Sundarbans. Then this char ‘dies’ again. The rest of the year is lifeless.

Sixty-year-old Gauch Gain Laitya from Satkhira is busy drying fish. Fresh Laitya was tying on the bamboo platform. He has taken the job of making dry goods for five months on a contract of 10 thousand rupees per month. The main business belongs to his son-in-law Shafiq. Gauch Gain said, ‘There is less work in the village. I’m in financial trouble. This is the first time I have taken a dry job. It’s getting old. Not everyone wants to work. ‘

According to Gauch, raw lentils are bought at an average price of Tk 1,600 per ounce. It takes four to five days to dry. Then the wholesalers from Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar or their people take it at the rate of kg. Lighter dried fruits are sold at Rs 12,000 to Rs 14,000 per gram.

If you go through the dublarchar of about 71 square miles, you can see the work of drying various kinds of fish. Hundreds of people are busy drying various species of marine fish including shrimp, rupachanda and churi.

Narayan Biswas from Dumuria in Khulna has been a resident of this char for four decades. In addition to the dry goods business, he has his own fishing trawler. Eight people involved in his business, including two sons.

Fishermen spend their days in the midst of various adversities. There is no treatment for illness. Even if there is a village doctor, they do not come to the rescue. Hasan Mandal, a fisherman from Char, said there was no fast-moving vessel to take the critically ill from the char to shore for treatment. In such a situation they have to leave the illusion of life and take shelter in the boat. If the government sets up a temporary hospital or medical camp here for at least five months, their suffering will be lessened.

In addition, there is an acute shortage of potable water. In the event of a major cyclone, there is no such thing as a safe place to stay. Char ponds need to be dug for potable water.

Mobile phone service provider Teletalk’s network is available in Dublarchar but it is very weak. Even if these towers run on generators, the oil problem keeps the network disconnected for about ‘two days’ every month.

Talking to the fishermen in Dublarchar, it was learned that after the surrender of the pirates to the RAB, there is no big problem for fishing in the Bay of Bengal now. However, this huge body of water was freed from the hands of influential people even though it was free from bandits. Many captured fishermen are in the hands of a number of influential people. In many parts of Sagarmohana, there is no opportunity for fishing in ordinary prisons without payment.

(Dhaka Times / 11 November / MOA)


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