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Checking river pollution, encroachment

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Published : Sunday, 07 April 2013

Khalilur Rahman

 

 

It was indeed encouraging to see that a group of university students aboard country boats removing garbage from the river Buriganga recently. The students were working on a voluntary basis to keep the river clean. In the backdrop of massive pollution of the river Buriganga and all other rivers around Dhaka city, the cleaning campaign initiated by the students is worth emulating.

 

Early last year, a patrol boat was put into service in the river Buriganga to monitor water pollution, growth of unauthorized structures and encroachment on river banks. Bangladesh PoribeshAndolon (BAPA) and Buriganga River Keeper jointly launched the boat at a ceremony held at Sadarghat launch terminal in the city. Speaking at the launching ceremony, shipping minister Shajahan Khan had announced that the government would provide two more boats to monitor unauthorized occupation of the river Buriganga and take measures to keep it free from pollution.

 

The minister once again recalled that the government was pledge-bound to save all the rivers in the country. He asserted that mass awareness campaign was needed to keep the river Buriganga free from pollution. The minister warned of stern action under law against those trying to grab land on the river banks. The minister disclosed that the government has formed a task force to protect all the rivers and keep those free from pollution.

 

The Bangladesh PoribeshAndolon(BAPA) estimates that two thousand tonnes of garbage are thrown into the Buriganga per day while two tonnes of those are removed from the river bed. The BAPA says that the river Buriganga is clinically dead. At present the river can hardly be revived if the authorities are not able to seal the sources of wastes pouring into the waters. According to an estimate, 200,000 inhabitants of Keraniganj, Babubazar, Badamtoli, Wiseghat, Zinjira and Kamrangirchar dump garbage into the river Buriganga every day from about 140 points.

 

Over the years the environmentalists and cross section of people are demanding of the government to save the rivers in the country as those are losing their depth at a faster pace and being occupied by land grabbers. Already, considerable damage has been caused to aquatic life. Industrial pollutants and all other wastes find their way into rivers, canals and water bodies under the very knowledge of the authorities concerned. This has resulted in destruction of aquatic plants, fishes and other living species.

 

On an earlier occasion, shipping minister Shajahan Khan had admitted that the ongoing cleaning of garbage from the rivers around Dhaka city would not be fruitful if people continue to throw all sorts of wastes, from plastic bottles to polythene bags and coconut shells. A mass awareness campaign has, therefore, been launched by the shipping ministry to educate people about the hazards of the river pollution, he stated. The campaign was carried out at a cost of Taka 5.2 million, provided by the Climate Change Trust Fund. With regard to cleaning measures so far taken by the government, the shipping minister had said that the rivers are still full of toxic wastes although over Taka 210 million had already been spent on Buriganga-Turag River Cleaning Project. The minister told newsmen that if members of the public do not desist from dumping garbage into rivers, the cleaning campaign will not be successful. The government also decided to construct concrete footpaths and plant trees on both banks of the rivers around Dhaka city to protect the areas from the grabbers. But the plan was not implemented.

 

Environmentalists say the money so far spent on removing solid wastes from river beds on the Buriganga and Turag have gone down the gutter. Water of these two rivers still offers a stinking smell and its colour is dark. Unauthorized occupation of river banks by influential people continues unabated. The BIWTA appears to be helpless to check encroachment on rivers. The situation will not improve unless the law against river pollution and occupation of the banks is enforced strictly.

 

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Source: thefinancialexpress-bd

 

 


 

 

 

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