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24 January, 2016 00:00 00 AM
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Dwindling wetlands

Water is perhaps the most precious of all natural resources. Unfortunately in Bangladesh natural water bodies are being encroached upon with apparent impunity by vested quarters
Dwindling wetlands

An agency report carried in this newspaper revealed that more than 60 per cent of wetlands in Dhaka city have been lost in last 30 years. This indeed is alarming news as wetlands play a number of roles in the environment, principally water purification and flood control. Over the years, rapid increases in population and sprawling concrete settlements have taken a heavy toll on the capital’s wetlands. Wetlands are defined as areas of land that is either temporarily or permanently covered by water. Each water body is ecologically unique. It recycles nutrients, purifies and provides drinking water, reduces flooding, recharges groundwater, provides fodder and fuel, facilitates aqua-culture, provides a habitat for wildlife, buffers the shoreline against erosion and offers avenues for recreation. 
We believe that it is a serious cause for concern that wetlands not only in Dhaka but also across the country are threatened by draining and filling and are being exploited for their natural resources, leading to the loss of biodiversity. Water is perhaps the most precious of all natural resources and a basic need sustaining the life of all living creatures. Unfortunately in Bangladesh natural water bodies are being encroached upon with apparent impunity by vested quarters. 
The latter are grabbing canals, ditches, marshes, etc. in different regions of the country and filling up the water bodies. Also the arbitrary use of wetlands for various other purposes with scant regard for ecological consequences is the main cause of groundwater depletion. Additionally threats to water bodies include lake reclamation for infrastructure activities, unauthorized dumping of municipal waste and building debris and sustained inflow of untreated or partially treated sewage and industrial effluents. Though laws do exist by which those involved in land filling can be brought to book, they are hardly if ever, implemented. With wetlands falling under multiple government agencies, it becomes difficult to monitor how they are being conserved. For ages, local communities looked after water bodies, which survived because of the sense of ownership. The local communities must again be involved to ensure preservation. 
The existing wetlands, if not preserved, would have disastrous consequences for the country. Simple steps can ensure preservation and flourishing of water bodies. Building drains around wetlands to harvest storm water and plating shrubs and porous material in catchments areas are steps in the right direction. The wetlands should be conserved and investments be made for sustainable development gains. The authorities must formulate a plan to protect and harvest water in these water bodies.  

 

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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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