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POST TIME: 12 September, 2019 12:13:13 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 September, 2019 01:22:42 AM
World River Day
Govt agencies blamed for failure to protect rivers
Special Correspondent, Dhaka

Govt agencies blamed for failure to protect rivers

Local administrations have failed to implement several government policies to protect the country’s rivers. Besides, different government agencies, including the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), are also involved in helping influential people to grab river banks across the country.

Dr Md Abdul Matin, general secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), said this while addressing a press conference on the occasion of ‘World River Day’ in the city’s Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) yesterday. “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is very keen on protecting the rivers of our country. She has also taken various steps, including the formation of a national river commission, to protect the waterbodies. But unfortunately, local administrations don’t bother to implement the PM’s directives to protect the rivers and other waterbodies,” Matin alleged.

When asked about the BIWTA’s eviction drive, Matin replied: “Encroachment on riverbanks is nothing new. Influential people can’t fill up the riverbanks overnight. A section of BIWTA employees are also involved in helping them to grab the rivers and its banks.”

Political commitments are needed to save the rivers, he said, adding that the apex court had already declared rivers as living entities.

“The country’s rivers are dying rapidly due to encroachment and pollution. The rivers are facing assaults in various ways like extraction of sands indiscriminately, construction of infrastructures on riverbeds, unplanned projects, and construction of unscientific flood-control embankments,” he noted.

The country is now at risk as many rivers have already disappeared from the map, the green activist said, adding that Bangladesh is considered a vulnerable country due to climate change.

“This is high time we protect our rivers, and the government should play a vital role in this regard. We believe that the government can save the rivers,” he also said.

Matin alleged that river demarcation pillars had not been installed in proper places.

Seventy environmental organisations will observe ‘World River Day’ jointly on September 21, although the day will be observed on September 22 formally at the state level.

The BAPA general secretary said the organisations would hold a road march on September 21 from the city’s Bahadur Shah Park to Sadarghat terminal to mark the occasion. State minister for shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury was likely to attend the programme, he added.

The green activist said all environmental organisations would observe the day on September 22 individually.

Water Environment Institute chairman M Enamul Huq, Blue Planet Initiative execurtive director Sharif Jamil, Stamford University’s environmental science department ehad Prof. Quamruzzaman Majumder and Green Voice co-ordinator Alamgir Kabir also spoke on the occasion.