Mahananda River- a livelihood for many in Tetulia

River rocks which drift in from India during the monsoon are scattered beneath the clear waters of the Mahananda River. They are a source of livelihood for many locals.
  • The spiral river from Darjeeling enters Bangladesh through Tetulia after crossing the northern part of West Bengal. The Mahananda marks the international border between India and Bangladesh.

    The spiral river from Darjeeling enters Bangladesh through Tetulia after crossing the northern part of West Bengal. The Mahananda marks the international border between India and Bangladesh.

  • After entering the Banglabandha Union of Tetulia through India’s Phulbari border, the Mahananda advances 20 kilometres and then heads back to India through the Sadar Union. The river originates from the Mahalidram hills, some 2,060 metres high, in Darjeeling.

    After entering the Banglabandha Union of Tetulia through India’s Phulbari border, the Mahananda advances 20 kilometres and then heads back to India through the Sadar Union. The river originates from the Mahalidram hills, some 2,060 metres high, in Darjeeling.

  • During the monsoon, stones of various sizes are brought into Bangladesh by strong river currents. Thousands of locals in Tetulia earn their livelihoods by lifting stones from the river.

    During the monsoon, stones of various sizes are brought into Bangladesh by strong river currents. Thousands of locals in Tetulia earn their livelihoods by lifting stones from the river.

  • The stone lifting work goes on from dawn to dusk. Groups of labourers begin work with inflated car tubes, iron sieves, and iron rods every morning.

    The stone lifting work goes on from dawn to dusk. Groups of labourers begin work with inflated car tubes, iron sieves, and iron rods every morning.

  • During the winter, the river water is either at chest or knee hight in different areas. Stones are dug from the bottom and sifted. The black and white stones are then placed on floating tubes and brought to the river bank.

    During the winter, the river water is either at chest or knee hight in different areas. Stones are dug from the bottom and sifted. The black and white stones are then placed on floating tubes and brought to the river bank.

  • Labourers often toil in the scorching sun, get soaked in rain or work in chilly conditions. They lift stones individually or in groups of 10-12 people. At the end of the day, the collected stones are sold to local traders. Each worker earns between Tk 400-600 per day.

    Labourers often toil in the scorching sun, get soaked in rain or work in chilly conditions. They lift stones individually or in groups of 10-12 people. At the end of the day, the collected stones are sold to local traders. Each worker earns between Tk 400-600 per day.

  • Majeda Begum, in her sixties, provides for her family by lifting stones from the Mahananda. She complains that women workers were paid less than men.

    Majeda Begum, in her sixties, provides for her family by lifting stones from the Mahananda. She complains that women workers were paid less than men.

  • Local traders buy stones lifted from the Mahananda and supply them to various parts of the country. The stones are used in different types of construction work.

    Local traders buy stones lifted from the Mahananda and supply them to various parts of the country. The stones are used in different types of construction work.

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