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DCs to launch year long drive against 45148 listed encroachers

Crash programme against river grabbers

Published : 06 Sep 2019 09:34 PM | Updated : 06 Sep 2020 05:24 AM

The National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) has identified over 45148 powerful individuals, businesses establishments and institutions as river grabbers across the country, NRCC officials said. The list of river grabbers across the country has already been uploaded to the NRCC website for people as per a High Court (HC) order.

Besides, the list containing the grabbers’ names and addresses will also be hanged at open space in every district so that people can see names of grabbers and polluters who are responsible for despicable state of the rivers. However, the powerful individuals, business houses and institutions who grabbed the rivers surrounding the capital Dhaka, have not been identified yet.

“All deputy commissioners have already been given the instruction in this regard. Seeking allocation for purchasing equipment and bulldozers in order to evict illegal structures from the rivers bank, the deputy commissioners have already sent letters to the cabinet division,” a high up of NRCC told The Bangladesh Post on Friday.

The official preferring not to be named also said as per the NRCC directive deputy commissioners of all districts are going to undertake a one-year crash programme against grabbers across the country. Influential powerful individuals and political leaders grabbed the country’s river banks and they also continued polluting rivers water. According to NRCC sources, most of river grabbers are in Chatrogram division.

Earlier, the High Court ordered the government to make a list of every grabber in the country and publish the list in the media to expose them to the public. The grabbers include powerful individuals, businesses and, ironically government offices. Following the HC directive, city corporations, district administrations and the Bangladesh Inland Transport Authority (BIWTA) jointly began eviction drives against illegal structures built occupying banks rivers initially in capital Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna.

But in many cases the drivesare being barred due to cases filed by the grabbers. But it is first time the NRCC has appointed lawyers for legal battle against the grabbers and polluters. Earlier, the NRCC launched a hotline to record complaints on pollution and illegal grabbing of rivers.
The government has formulated the NRCC Act 2013 to prevent grabbing of rivers, pollution and establishing of illegal structures, retrieve natural flow of river, proper maintenance of rivers and make rivers as favorable to shipping to ensure the rivers’ multidimensional use for the socioeconomic development of the country.

On November 9 last year the NRCC sent a letter to the cabinet division expressing its willingness to work under it. Later, the letter was sent to the shipping ministry to get its opinion. The shipping ministry in its reply said the commission would work under the ministry in order to coordinate efforts to free the rivers from grabbers and polluters.

According to the water development board, the country has some 405 rivers and 57 trans-boundary rivers flowing inside Bangladesh. Due to climate change and different natural and man-made problems, the country’s rivers and water bodies are being polluted gradually. Around 77 rivers have totally disappeared from the map of Bangladesh, with their beds serving as croplands, according to experts. And now 37 other rivers have been badly affected by grabbers and polluters.

Of the total rivers under dredging, 13 are dead and dry rivers. The dead and dry rivers are the Kongso, Mogra, Chalti, Dudkumar, Rokti, Baulai, Rakshaw-Nalar, Arial Kha, Monu, Atrai, Buri, Natun and Moynakata. 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, HuraSagor, Karotoa, Bibiana, Pagla, Rakti, Dakua, Barak, Patnai, Kangsha, Turag, Nabaganga, Ichamati, Madhumati, Dumuria, Someswari, Balu, Jamuneswari and Dhaleswari are about to die, an expert said.

The length of internal river routes of the country is 6,000 kilometres during the monsoon and 4,000 kilometres in the dry season, according shipping ministry sources. About 1,620 km of river routes have totally disappeared. The farmers are now cultivating crops on these lands.