The ministries involved in river protection have lack of interest
By Zeba Tarannum
Dr. Mojibur Rahman Howladar, Chairman of the National River Protection Commission, commented on the lack of interest in the concerned ministries involved in river protection.
He called upon all the concerned ministries to come forward with a spirit of goodwill and cooperation to work together and said that river occupation-pollution has also gradually increased since independence and development activities. The government is responsible for implementing the court verdict.
The ministries involved in river protection have a lack of goodwill. We seek their cooperation. The river should not only dredge; the two banks of the river should also be widened.
He said the river commission had prepared the Division wise l report published by next November.
He said these things as a chief guest in a virtual roundtable discussion on the occasion of World Rivers Day on Monday.
The virtual roundtable meeting jointly organized by the Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), and the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) at 10:30 am on Monday in collaboration with the National Daily Star.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive of BELA, presented an article on the subject at the meeting. She gave an overall picture of the rivers of the country.
She said, “Despite the High Court’s verdict to protect several rivers in the country, these rivers are not being protected. Owners of Tannery industries are not using ETP. Even by giving incentives, the government should force them to obey the law.”
She added, “The government has set up a river protection commission, but it has not empowered the commission to do the necessary work to protect the river. The commission has so far made 122-point recommendations for river protection but has not been able to implement them properly.”
Khushi Kabir, the Chairperson of the meeting, said, “The state’s misguided development policies and projects are killing the rivers in various ways. It is necessary to identify why the decision is not being implemented despite the initiative of the Prime Minister.”
She recommended forming a watchdog platform comprising representatives of various organizations and civil society, including the National River Commission.
Dr. Ainun Nishat said, “Before determining the number of rivers, we need to know the definition of rivers. We have to work to protect the biodiversity of the river beyond occupation and pollution. Rivers are dying due to declining flow, shrinking, and deteriorating water quality.”
Sharmin Murshid, a member of the river commission, said, “The river commission has been going through a tug of war since its inception.
Even with the High Court verdict’s implementation, the River Commission is in a tug of war with government bureaucrats. To remove this tension, those who are committing irregularities in river protection within the government should be brought under punishment.”
M. Enamul Haque said, “It is true that the Prime Minister has sincerity in protecting the river but some bureaucratic complexities are not working within the state apparatus.
We need to think about why the complication is happening. In the public interest, if the people are given the power to file lawsuits on river possession and pollution, the problem will be reduced quickly. Section 17 of the Environment Act needs to be amended to eliminate legal problems.”
Shamsul Huda, executive director of ALRD, said, “The river protection commission is trying to work in a very hostile environment. Due to the length of the legal process in the country, the verdict of the case could not be obtained quickly.
A separate tribunal needs to be set up to faster the process. The entire people own the river. There should be a provision in the law.”