The sudden increase in salinity in the rivers of Barishal and Jhalakathi has become a great concern for farmers and fishermen in these areas as they think it may have fatal consequences for agriculture and fisheries.
The waters of the Kirtankhola River in Barishal, and the Sugandha and Bishkhali Rivers in Jhalakathi, have had increased salinity for the last one week.
Experts say these rivers are the main sources of water for many small rivers and canals in the area, and agriculture and fisheries are largely dependent on them. If the water of these rivers becomes saltier, the whole water source for these areas would be salty.
Local people, farmers and fishermen expressed their concern about the increased salinity in river water.
The salinity will badly affect fish production in the rivers if it remains for a long time. All sweet water fishes except hilsa may abandon these rivers
"We have found the water of Kirtankhola salty for the last one week. We depend on the river water for all our domestic chores," said Jaman who lives in a slum beside the Kirtankhola River in Barishal city.
"Our agriculture depends heavily on river water for irrigation. If the water becomes salty and remains so for a long time, we will not be able to use the water to grow crops," said Jahangir Hossain, a farmer of Nalchity, Jhalakathi.
"The sweet water fishes are less in the river these last few days," said Shajahan, a fisherman of Kawer Char in Barishal.
According to experts, all living bodies dependent on this water may be in danger due to salinity. It may also affect people who depend on these rivers in their daily lives.
"The salinity will badly affect fish production in the rivers if it remains for a long time. All sweet water fishes except hilsa may abandon these rivers," said Anisur Rahman, deputy director (DD) of the fisheries department, Barishal.
"I have contacted the relevant department for testing the water. It is not only a threat to agriculture but also to all living in these areas," said Abtab Uddin, deputy director of agriculture, Barishal.
The environment office of Barishal has already tested the water and found the presence of salinity.
The low flow of water currents from upstream due to inadequate rainfall is the main cause of the salinity and seawater might be entering the rivers for the slow water pressure and flow from upstream
"I collected water samples from Kirtankhola River at Dapdapia in the city on Monday and found the presence of salt after testing," said Tota Mia, assistant director of the environment office of Barishal.
He said this might happen due to inadequate rainfall throughout the season.
"The low flow of water currents from upstream due to inadequate rainfall is the main cause of the salinity and seawater might be entering the rivers for the slow water pressure and flow from upstream," said Tota Mia.
Rakib Hossain, executive engineer of the water development board, Jhalakathi, said that when the river ebbs at low tide, it draws in salty water to the river.
Tajul Islam, sub-divisional engineer of water development board, Barishal, said, "I have collected water samples. We will disclose all the details after laboratory work."