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Editorial: For an effective river commission, Mere recommendatory role will not do

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Monday, February 4, 2013



A river commission is in the offing. But by all sights and sounds, it is going to be a toothless body. Nothing by way of a single authority having control over river foreshores, regulating river uses and coordinating government agencies dealing with rivers is being envisaged.


The draft of National River Protection Commission Act 2013 which has already received cabinet approval will empower the commission with a recommendatory role on river conservation, not an executive one. Not only is a commission being formed after three and a half years since High Court judgment requiring it in 2009, but also it is likely to have little or no representation of the experts on rivers and the environment.


The reasons for having a strong authority to save the rivers and water bodies which have been encroached upon and polluted are too well known to bear repetition. In a discussion meet on the draft law organised by the environmental group PoribeshBachaoAndolon with civic movement group Jonoudyog, the participants have made a strong case for an effective river commission.


It would be self-defeating if the unwieldy government agencies such as Water Development Board, Inland Water Transport Authority and the environment department do not work under a single and unified command at certain level. For the experience has been that without being accountable to anybody these agencies often work at cross-purposes. What is worse, they blame each other for the dire strait the rivers find themselves in.


The way our water resources are dying and the potential for effective land use is being wasted, nothing short of a fully empowered, professionally manned, adequately equipped and autonomous commission can help us turn the tide.


We would therefore endorse the environmentalists' demand for a public hearing on the draft law of the commission. This will enable inputs from experts and stakeholders facilitating the process of forming an effective river commission.


Let it not turn out to be another avenue for just employing people, a decorative piece, as it were.



Source: thedailystar






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