Uthali the term used to refer to uprooted people who lost land and homestead due to riverbank erosion. The displaced population takes shelter either on the khas land (government owned), road, embankment and/or on private fallow land. Due to unabated rapid bank erosion, even a wealthy landowner may become landless within a very short period and forced to move as uthali for a shelter. Typical uthali population may be extensively seen along the left and right embankments of the jamuna, particularly along Kazipur, Sirajganj, Chilmari, Jamalpur, Sarishabari and Bhuapur where river erosion is a most pervasive hazard. Every year river erosion makes hundreds of family's landless and pauperised overnight. In most cases, these rootless people were fishermen, day labourers, boatmen, weavers or farmers.
Uthalis do not settle in one place rather they prefer to move to a place where relative opportunities for earning livelihood and security appear to be better. For social security, they prefer to live in groups. Some uthalis work as share croppers on absentee land owners' land; others prefer to work as day labourers and move to the char lands during dry season and get back to the embankment or to a new place in the wet season. [Mohd Shamsul Alam]