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  • Last Update : 10:24 am

River grabbing on the rise

  • Published at 07:38 am January 13th, 2021
river pollution
Can our rivers be saved? Syed Zakir Hossain

In the last one year, the list of river grabbers and polluters has grown from 57,390 to 63,249

The National River Conservation Commission has published a list of 63,249 river grabbers and polluters in 64 districts of the country. 

Earlier, the list had 57,390 river grabbers. Of these, 18,579 occupants have been evicted in the last two years, the commission said.

The information was released at an event organized on the occasion of unveiling the annual report-2019 of the National River Conservation Commission on Tuesday, reports Bangla Tribune.

At this time, it was said that not only should grabbing and polluting of rivers be prevented sincerely, but it is also important to implement the law properly and work hard against the grabbers and polluters.

Chief Guest Planning Minister Abdul Mannan said: "It is our prime minister's initiative to save the river through the River Commission. We are working on this. River Commission’s activities are attracting the attention of the civilized society.

“We are working to save the Brahmaputra. It needs to be implemented further. I will try to raise the issues of the river commission with the prime minister in the next cabinet meeting so that it gets more attention.”

Chairman of the River Commission Mujibur Rahman Hawlader said: "In the last one year, we have been able to evict about 18,579 grabbers. In the last one year, the list of river grabbers and polluters has grown from 57,390 to 63,249.”

"We have asked the Finance Ministry for Tk200 crore to prevent river grabbinand pollution," he said. 

He added: “Besides, I have submitted proposals for two projects to the Planning Commission. Some of our work has been delayed due to the pandemic. If the money and projects are approved, we will be able to overcome the drawback.”

Also read: Bangladesh wants more info on shared rivers with India

Mujibur Rahman Hawlader said: “Our navigability has decreased due to the river grabbing. The water is becoming still. On one side of the country there is no water, on the other side floods are frequent.”

Brahmaputra, Meghna, Shitalakshya, Dhaleshwari are occupied by big traders. Big plants have been built in many places, big factories have been built, he added. 

There were about 77 canals around Dhaka, almost all of whom have been occupied. Bridges have been built in places by occupying the river, which are so small that they come to no use.

The navigability is in a very delicate condition. Dredging is supposed to be done every year but very little is being done. Not even one-sixth is being done.

The chairman said: "Everyone's awareness about the river is slowly increasing. There are many laws. Some of them are very complex. As a result, there are many complications in law enforcement. 

“We are developing the environment with environmental laws. The fines according to the law are not enough, punishment must be added. We have to work together and evict river grabbers with a firm hand.”

Economist Hossain Zillur Rahman said: "We must first change our point of view. Not only must grabbing and pollution be stopped, the river must also be nurtured. A concerted effort is essential. It is difficult to choose between environment and development. You have to choose one.”

Sharif Jamil, general secretary of Bangladesh Agro-Processors Association, said: "Even after so much protest, it is now clear that both river grabbing and pollution have increased. Besides, it is not being stopped despite the strict verdicts of the court. 

“As much as our initiatives for saving rivers are praised in foreign countries, we are also criticized for not enforcing the law properly.”

He added: “The steps the government is taking are very weak. The government has to believe that people want to save the river. No matter how strong the court's verdict is, it will not work unless the government wants it to work. The commission will not be effective either.”

With the Chairman of River Commission Sonia Morshed as the convenor, Mahfuz Anam, editor of Daily Star; Sohrab Hasan, joint editor of Prothom Alo; Manzil Morshed, president of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, Sharif Jamil, general secretary of Bapa and others spoke on the occasion.

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