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14 March, 2018 12:24:24 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 14 March, 2018 08:10:58 AM

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‘77 rivers vanish from Bangladesh’

River Day to be observed today
ANISUR RAHMAN KHAN
‘77 rivers vanish from Bangladesh’

Around 77 rivers have totally disappeared from the map of Bangladesh, with their beds serving as croplands, experts disclosed. The experts noted that rivers are disappearing due to the unplanned construction of embankments and culverts, unabated encroachment, the absence of dredging, the lack of water flow, urbanisation, siltation, earthquakes, climate changes and construction of barrages and withdrawal of water with the construction of dams in the upstream.

According to a survey by the Netherlands Engineering Consultants (NEDECO) of the Netherlands, carried out between 1965 and 1967, some 310 large and small rivers were flowing across the country, while the National River Protection Commission (NRPC) has claimed that around 410 large and small rivers are still flowing in the country.

Many rivers like the Chitra, Daudkhali, Chengrail, Ghanoraj, Betna, Mukuleswari, Labangabati, Herther, Atharobeki, Salta, Dakua Khal, Sui, Dhanu, Balardi, Phutki, Mora Kumar and Muchikhali have completely vanished from Bangladesh’s map.

Besides, most portions of rivers like the Padma, Ganges, Teesta, Brahmaputra, Jamuna, Dhaleswari, Sandhya, Meghna, Buriganga, Shitalakhya and Bangalee have already dried up because of the irresponsibility of local residents and the government’s negligence, complained green activists and river experts.

About 45 rivers like the Kaliganga, Bangshi, Banar, Patnai, Jadukatha, Manu, Mogra, Dakatia, Dhorla, Old Brahmaputra, Mohananda, Arialkha, Gorai, Hura Sagor, Karotoa, Bibiana, Pagla, Rakti, Dakua, Barak, Patnai, Kangsha, Turag, Nabaganga, Ichamati, Madhumati, Dumuria, Someswari, Balu, Jamuneswari and Dhaleswari are about to die, Emdadul Haque, an expert on rivers, told The Independent yesterday.

Around 77 rivers have disappeared from the map of Bangladesh, Haque said, adding that most of the rivers have also died because of unplanned construction by the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED).

“About 1,620 km of river routes have totally disappeared.

The farmers are now cultivating crops on these lands. Maintenance dredging, after stopping encroachments, is required to save the country’s rivers,” said Haque, a former director of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).

“Many of the rivers will die and the ecological impact would be faced by

the country as a result of the Indian river linking project,” warned Dr Mominul Haque Sarker, deputy executive director of the Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS), adding that some of the rivers have already been affected because of the dams and embankments constructed on the upstream in India.
“Trucks and carts are being plied on the beds of some rivers during the dry season and the rivers have now become the grazing fields for cattle. Besides, many species of aquatic lives, including fish, have disappeared from these rivers,” he said in reply to a query.
The CEGIS has given an updated book on rivers to the government mentioning some 405 rivers in the country, Dr Sarker said.
“Most parts of the country have already turned into deserts because of the unilateral withdrawal of water in the upstream. Bangladesh is moving towards environmental disaster and ecological degradation. The nation will face a crisis of food security and economic growth as the rivers die out,” Abu Naser Khan, the chairman of Paribesh Bachao Andolan (POBA), told this correspondent.
Encroachment is going on unabated and industrial waste, household garbage and ship refuse are being directly dumped into rivers, which are also aiding the deaths of the rivers, the green activist pointed out.
The government has taken several initiatives to restore the country’s rivers through dredging, shipping minister Shajahan Khan said. “Many priority projects under capital dredging have been taken up as per the Prime Minister’s instructions. If the rivers are saved, the nation will be saved. We are trying to restore the navigability of all rivers in the country under the capital dredging programme,” the minister said.
NRPC member Md Alauddin said around 410 rivers currently flow in the country and, of them, about 70 have fully disappeared.
“We have taken up a project to ascertain the actual number of rivers. Besides, a list of the rivers that have disappeared will also be prepared,” he said in reply to a query. The government will show zero tolerance in terms of the protection of the country’s rivers, he added.
Against this backdrop, the nation will observe ‘River Day’ today (Wednesday). Shipping minister Shajahan Khan will exchange views with the local people at Pabna on Wednesday as part of a process to create awareness for saving the Boral. Also, NRPC member Alauddin and other high-ranking officials will hold a discussion meeting in Gazipur on Wednesday to mark the day.

SR

 

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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