Drives continue to free rivers from grabbers

Following special directives from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the authorities concerned are continuing eviction drives across the country to free rivers from the grabbers. The drives would only stop once all the country’s rivers are freed from the encroachers, top government sources claimed.

So far, a total of 4,472 infrastructures from 157km of both sides of rives have been demolished. Some 121 acres of riverine land has been recovered from the grabbers. The National River Conservation Commission has published a list of 46000 river grabbers of 64 four districts. Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has conducted eviction drives to recover grabbed lands of three rivers under Dhaka River Port - Buriganga, Turag and Balu for 50 working days.

Besides, government grant and attention have also increased to prevent river erosion in last decade. BIWTA has recovered 915km waterway in last 7 years at a cost of Tk 936 crore. The government has taken an extensive project to determine the banks of Jamuna and Padma – the two most erosion-prone rivers of the country. The project will also work to recover and protect the grabbed lands of these two rivers. Besides, construction of a ‘highway-cum-embankment’ on the right bank of Brahmaputra is also under consideration under this project.

A Bangladesh-India joint project has been taken to dredge 178km waterways from the Brahmaputra river’s Bangladesh entry-point at Doikhawa to Sirajgonj. Already dredging-survey of the project has been completed. This project will have a positive impact to decrease erosion of the Brahmaputra.

Several laws related to river, water and environment has been passed and reformed in the last decade. But implementation of those laws could not be ensured. After the High Court declared country’s all rivers as legal existence and living existence, the way to implement those laws has been paved.

Grabbing and pollution are the two main problems with the rivers of the country. Some effective steps have been taken to make the river free form grabbers but no such effective step has yet been taken to make the rivers free from pollution. Although the Hazarigabh tannery factories have been shifted to Savar following long movement and demand in this regard, now the Dhaleshwari river is in risk of water pollution as waste management system is not up to the mark there.

Prevention of pollution of rivres is also not less important than eviction of the grabbers. Polluted water is not usable for household and other industrial purposes. Again fishes and other aquatic animals also cannot live in polluted water. As a result, fish farming in rivers and lakes is decreasing day by day.

Though river erosion is a natural incident, mindless human activities also increases possibility of erosion. The main human-made reason for river erosion is lifting sand from rivers.Government has taken strict initiative to free the rivers from the grabbers. Now the government should take strict initiative to make the rivers free from pollution.