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14 January, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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River encroachment goes unabated

River encroachment goes unabated

It’s regrettable to find that at least three to four times a year, newspapers in Bangladesh have to highlight the menace of river encroachment which is severely impacting natural balance, destroying water bodies and adding impunity to vile sections involved in this condemnable act.

A recent report states, possibly in utter despair, that while Bangladesh Inland Water Development Authority (BIWTA) has failed along with the National River Protection Commission (NRPC) in countering this grave aberration, directives from the Supreme Court plus the head of the country did not have any positive impact. In such a situation, the question arises as to the power of illegal occupiers of water bodies since PM’s directives have not yielded any concrete results.

Encroachment plus unlawful occupation of land is not a new concern. It’s widely known that unprincipled people within government agencies entrusted with the task of overseeing protection of rivers are often in cahoots with occupiers, providing them with false papers and an apparently solid base for their claims.

The impact is all around us. Major rivers are being gobbled up, water ways are being narrowed while a terrible ecological imbalance is triggered. Consequently, indigenous species of fish, insects and other plants are disappearing and the country is turning into a concrete mess.

The NRPC is existing only in name, acting more like a toothless tiger. For starters, society is not aware of the extent of NRPC’s authority. It seems that in the face of unscrupulous people all government bodies are either impotent or working to provide tacit support.

In such a situation, when rivers are being occupied despite so many steps, the only option left is for a government initiated crackdown similar to the ongoing one against narcotics, with magistrates. The authority has to be swift, firm and uncompromising in dealing with encroachers, irrespective of their political links or party affiliation history.  Without some exemplary drives supported by punishment, this appalling culture will not stop. If needed, the government can prioritise certain rivers as per their environmental damage and call in the defence forces, giving them magistracy powers.

When orders from the top office in Bangladesh are being defied then normal procedures won’t bring any results. The situation is already grave and demands tough action. The government will be wise to immediately declare a one year ecological safeguard drive involving the defence forces, supported by ecological experts.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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