The World Rivers Day was observed on Sunday in the country as elsewhere around the world to increase public awareness about rivers and to encourage their conservation. Marking the day every year, the government and non-government organisations and ecologists take part in various seminars, symposiums meetings, rallies, workshops and publicity activities. They also term the rivers as veins of human body, saying protection of the rivers is a must. But the fact of the matter is that their commitments always remain unfulfilled due to what they say “serious difficulties and challenges” caused by local influential and hoodlums. Therefore, their all efforts to protect the rivers are going in vain.
The country has some 405 rivers and 57 trans-boundary rivers flowing inside Bangladesh. Around 77 rivers have totally disappeared from the map of Bangladesh, with their beds serving as croplands. And now 37 other rivers have been badly affected by grabbers and polluters. Currently the length of internal river routes of the country is 6,000 kilometres during the monsoon and 4,000 kilometres in the dry season. About 1,620 km of river routes have totally disappeared and the farmers are now cultivating crops on these lands.
wetlands are disappearing fast from
the country’s map due
to unabated grabbing
Three years back, the National River Conservation Commission had identified over 57390 powerful individuals, businesses establishments and institutions as river grabbers across the country. Later, the city corporations, district administrations and the Bangladesh Inland Transport Authority jointly conducted eviction drives several times against illegal structures built occupying banks rivers initially across the country. They had evicted some 18589 illegal grabbers from the rivers until the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. As soon as the drive came to a halt due the pandemic, the influential along with their hoodlums again started grabbing the rivers under the nose of the authority concerned.
Bangladesh is a riverine country and haors, baors, freshwater lakes and wetlands are the lifeline and resources of the country. Country’s agriculture and rural economy are dependent on rivers, canals, haors and other waterbodies, contributing to the overall economic development of the country. But it is very unfortunate to note that like other resources the influential people continued looting country’s rivers and other wetlands.
The government has taken several special measures to restore and develop the rivers and natural wetlands. But the rivers and wetlands are disappearing fast from the country’s map due to unabated grabbing. Therefore, stern action should be taken against the people who are involved in grabbing the rivers.
The grassroots administration in association with public representatives must work concertedly to evict the grabbers. Integrated efforts of all the government, non-government organisations concerned and general people are needed to ensure restoration and preservation of all the rivers. It is time to recover the lost rivers to protect our environment at any cost.