Environment activists on Thursday called for the establishment of a strong, accountable River Commission to frame an integrated work plan for river management in the country.
Addressing a human-chain programme on the occasion of World Water Day, they also urged all concerned to stand against the withdrawal of water from the upstream areas of the trans-boundary rivers that is leading to disastrous impacts on the aquatic and agro-ecological environment in the downstream.
The human chain was organised by Save the Environment Movement (Poba) in front of the Sadarghat BIWTA Pontoon to mark the World Water Day on March 22.
Poba joint general secretary Syed Monowar Hossain said lack of coordination among government agencies involved in river management is leading to a disastrous future of the water resources of the country.
“The BWDB (Bangladesh Water Development Board), LGED (Local Government Engineering Division), BIWTA (Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority) and other relevant organisations are using the rivers at their sweet will,” he said.
Unplanned construction of river, city protection embankments, and many other short-term interventions for erosion protection are also leading to the gradual destruction of rivers, he added.
It is urgent that the government moves out of red tapes and forms a strong, effective and accountable River Commission for the framing of an integrated work plan to revive the rivers of the country, he said.
He also noted that the government must take effective measures to stop pollution of river water, particularly of the Buriganga River.
A recent study by Institute of Water Modelling (IWM) shows that about 7,000 industrial units are dumping about 1.5 million cubic metres of waste into the rivers surrounding Dhaka every day, whereas another 0.5 million cubic metre waste is discharged from other sources, such as domestic wastes.
According to BIWTA statistics, the length of navigable waterways shrunk to 6,000 kilometres during the rainy season and to 3,800 kilometres in the winter in recent years, whereas the length was about 14,000 kilometres back in 1964.
Presided over by Poba executive committee member Ifma Hossain, the human chain was also addressed by its executive member Tofail Ahmed, coordinator Atik Morshed and United Peace Foundation Barishal unit president Sumon Chandra Sarkar.