(A ridge of sand silt in Kalli Bari.)
(Abdul Modtaleb (right, with the white shirt) is supervising the sand business in Kalli Bari.)
(On the boat. The filter in the middle of the pipe gets stuck every 20 to 30 minutes because of garbage which is also extracted from the riverbank.)
To discover the reason why the silt flow stopped I ask him to show me the heart of his business. We cross the embankment, following the pipes down to the river. A small raft brings us to two boats which are tied together forming a catamaran. When we step on the boat we meet Kanchan, the machine operator. He is busy unhooking wet garbage from a small metal container incorporated within an arrangement of two engines, rods, pipes and arbors. A smell of diesel is in the air although the engine is not running. Everything looks quite improvised. Before the silt is pumped through the pipe to the ridge at the riverbank, it passes a filter. “The problem is that there is garbage all over the riverbed, so that the machine has to be stopped to free the filter from the garbage. We have to stop it every half an hour.”, Kanchan says. He is about twenty years old and has been working with machines since he was twelve. He has never been to college but he understands the kinks of this Chinese engine. He has learnt by doing. At the beginning of his working life, Kanchan learnt about electric wiring and air conditioning before five years ago he secured a job the assistant technician, later getting promoted to his current position. Together with his parents, Kanchan also lives in Kalli Bari. Because Kanchan is still unmarried he can live on the 280 Tk. he gets every day from the consortium.
To compensate for the current of and the waves on the river, Kanchan invented a flexible piece of pipe so that the main pipe can not break. It also looks very improvised but seems to work. However, with the upcoming rainy season the river will have more water and the current will be too strong to operate the suction machine for about two months. Even the invention made by Kanchan will not help then and during that time the equipment will be stored at the riverbank . Abdul will be able to earn during that period by selling a stock of sand they have already accumulated, but for Kanchan it will mean unemployment. Maybe he can use the time to find a wife and get married. “I would like to, but my parents are going to decide this issue” he comments.
(Eventually they engine runs again and Abdul and Kanchan are back in business.)