Wetlands disappearing

Over 42000 acres filled each year

Over 42 thousand acres of agricultural and wetlands are being filled up every year, contributing to deterioration of the environment, experts said on Thursday. Besides, some 5,757 acres of wetlands on an average are also disappearing each year from capital Dhaka and its adjacent areas. They came up with the statements at a press conference on ‘Scenario of filling wetlands surrounding capital and its adjacent area,’ in the city.

Bangladesh Institute of Planners, Bela, ALRD and Nodi O Poribesh Unnyan Parishad Savar jointly organised the press conference at Midas Centre in the capital. “If such unplanned and illegal trends continue, the country will have to face serious disaster in the future. In this context, government will have to take strict decision to stop indiscriminate earth filling,” said Adil Mohammad Khan, general secretary, Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP).

The experts said as the government’s electoral commitment was to protect and rescue the country’s agricultural and wetlands, it is high time to go hard on those involved in such crimes. Wetlands, canals and water bodies in capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country will have to be recovered immediately, not only for getting rid of waterlogging but also for ensuring the natural balance of the city and protecting its environment, keeping pace with the development and urbanisation spree, the experts said.

The experts said the city in its 1,528-sq km area lost flood-flow zones and wetlands respectively at an annual rate of 2,110 and 165 acres over the past one decade. Since official gazette notification on Dhaka’s Detailed Area Plan was formulated in 2010, Dhaka city lost a quarter of 22,038 acre conservable flood-flow zones. “Conservation of water bodies like rivers and canals, wetlands, retention areas and flood-flow zones are all vital to making development and urbanization sustainable with ecological balance,” said Khan.
He further said the government's political will, enforcement of law, proper plan and necessary fund are a must to protect the agricultural and wetlands.

Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) Research Associate, Feroze Ahmed Kanak presented a keynote paper on Wetlands-filling in the Savar area.
A study of satellite images had identified 50 entities (27 mentioned in research paper presentation) which are responsible for filling wetlands in Savar area. From satellite images in 2008, it was found that about 177 acres of wetlands were filled for 56 different activities, including land development, sand filling and establishment of brickfields in different areas of Savar.

The study also said about 423 acres of wetlands were filled for 56 identified activities in 2013, and about 695 acres for 82 activities in 2018 for sand filling, brickfields and in the name of land development. Feroze also said Aminbazar waste dumping area is also increasing. About 53.02 acres of land was used from 2006 to 2014 whereas the area increased to 73.37 acres in 2018 for dumping garbage. Member Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon Architect Iqbal Habib said, “Despite continuous protest from different environmental organisations, some unscrupulous grabbers (including government and non-governmental organizations) with the help of high power authority are filling wetlands in different areas.”