Eviction drives launched to free the country’s rivers, canals and water bodies from the hands of grabbers have been intensified, highly placed sources in the shipping and water ministries said.
Though many rivers, canals and water bodies are still occupied illegally by a section of local influential across the country, the government is going hard on them.
Mentionable, the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) has prepared a list of 49,162 river grabbers across the country through the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of the 64 districts.
And the list has been made public for the people through uploading on the websites of NRCC and all district web portals.
As part of the eviction drive against illegal land grabbers to protect rivers across the country, the district administrations are conducting the eviction drives in collaboration with different stakeholders, including city corporations, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and police.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury informed the national parliament that a total of 49,162 grabbers of rivers have been spotted across the country.
Noting that eviction of illegal river grabbers is a continuous process, the state minister said, a total of 1027 illegal structures were knocked down and 21.5 acres of riverbanks were recovered in the Dhaka and Naranyanganj river ports through two special eviction drives on December 18 and 24 last year.
So far, a total of 4,472 infrastructures from 157km of both sides of rivers have been demolished.
Some 121 acres of riverine land has been recovered from the grabbers.
And the BIWTA has conducted eviction drives to recover grabbed lands of three rivers under Dhaka River Port - Buriganga, Turag and Balu for 50 working days.
The government has taken various effective measures in order to make the waterways more worthy, sources in the shipping ministry said.
The government has taken up 49 projects at a cost of Tk 4,713.31 crore to free the rivers from encroachment and pollution as well as to restore their navigability.
A ‘comprehensive effort’ will be made to protect all rivers, canals, haors and other water bodies as the country’s agriculture and rural economy are dependent on them.
The country has some 405 rivers and 57 trans-boundary rivers are 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.
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.
The government has formulated NRCC Act 2013 to prevent grabbing of rivers, pollution and establishing of illegal structures, retrieving natural flow of rivers, proper maintenance of rivers and making rivers favorable to shipping to ensure the rivers multidimensional use for the socioeconomic development of the country.
The dredging of 25 rivers is now underway including the dead and dry rivers in order to keep up the navigability of the river routes throughout the country.
Of the total rivers under dredging, he said 13 are dead and dry rivers. The dead and dry rivers are Kongso river, Mogra, Chalti, Dudkumar, Rokti, Baulai, Rakshaw-Nalar river, Arial kha, Monu, Atrai, Buri, Natun river and Moynakata river.
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, 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 to the shipping ministry sources.
About 1,620 km of river routes have totally disappeared. The farmers are now cultivating crops on these lands.