Baors (in Bangla) or Oxbow lakes (in English) are one of the very common inland water bodies of Bangladesh. There are about six hundred oxbow lakes (created by changing or dying river course) in three greater districts of Jessore, Kustia and Faridpur having many of these concentrations in greater Jessore district. These oxbow lakes (Local name-Baor) stretched from 282 hectares to the lowest 10 hectares. The highest area of Baors is contradictory because in the rainy season the areas increase a lot. These are common property of these water bodies, which have a high potential of production of fish resources.
An oxbow lake (Baor) is a dead section of a river created when the river changed course. A Baor normally is still part of the flood plain of the river to which inlets and outlets connect it. By screening the inlets and outlets a Baor can be converted into a culture based fishery (DoF-1996). The name ‘Oxbow’ refers to it a shape and is called oxbow lake (in Bangla, ‘Baor’).
Baors present in Bangladesh in the 17th centuries and may be ancient further. At the beginning Baors were the properties of Zamidars (Landlords) during the British colonial days (1757-1947) and became government property after the abolition of the Zamidary system through a land settlement act in 1951. They were leased to private individuals or cooperatives through open auctions. Individual leaseholders with usual shout–term lease contract (for three years) were rarely enthusiastic to invest in stocking or fish resource up-keeping in such a vast and extensive water bodies with huge overseeing or enforcement costs in an open access system. In most cases lease of these water-bodies were taken as a prestige possession and demonstration of economic might in the socio-economic might in the socio-economic setting of the countryside. But at present these Baors are all under the GOB and take some initiatives to mange these potential water body. (Alam. S. 2003)
Over the years through government policy evolutions on the management of these public good water bodies three forms of lakes management have emerged as-
- Directly managed by government assistance through Department of Fisheries called Oxbow Lake Project -1 (OLP-1) started operating since the early eighties.
- Oxbow Lake Project-2 (OLP-2) managed by fishers themselves under license to groups of listed members for a period of fifty years and thus jointly managed by member fishers (initially supported by DANIDA/IFAD as a project) and
- Continuance of old system of leasing out to private bidders and thus singly managed by the leaseholders (very few lakes are available now a days for such leasing based on only consideration of revenue by the state). These Baors are called as Private Baors.
Over the years fish production in Baors of all management types has increased. Privately managed Baors has the highest production per hectare (4329 kg) followed by OLP-I Baors (2062 kg) and OLP-2 Baors (1233 kg). It is likely that private leaseholders faced little free riders problem because of their usual strong economic and political might in the local society which and prompt decision making have contributed larger harvests. This can also be visualized that social fencing (as collective force) could not be stronger due to lower socio-political status of the individuals in case of OLP-2 Baors. (Alam. S. 2003).
A check list of some well-known Baors are given below-
- Alam. S., 2003. The Oxbow Lakes Management and its Impact on the Livelihood of Fishers-A Comparative Study. A research report with SEFER-DFID Research Award Support. pp. 1-43.
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