Dhaka, Bangladesh
March for rivers

Editorial

March for rivers

The theme of the World River Day this year is 'March for the rivers'. Terming rivers the life-line of a nation, river rights activists and educationists stressed on creating awareness about the importance of ensuring uninterrupted water-flow in the rivers to improve environment, bio-diversity, ecology and national economy. There cannot be life without water. Rivers and their waters help sustain life on our planet. But negligence and insensitivity of people cause pollution and damage to rivers. In almost every country in the world rivers are in great peril and Bangladesh is no exception and a large number of rivers here are in death throes. Experts are of the opinion that it is essential to empower the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) to save rivers across the country as most of their recommendations have not been implemented. NRCC was formed to protect rivers. But it does not have any tooth as it was not given legal and institutional capacities, which are essential to protect rivers. Despite having good intention to save rivers, the commission is not capable of doing so under the existing system. The commission can only make recommendations to authorities concerned, but cannot take actions against river encroachment by any person or polluters, nor does it have any power to demolish illegal structures on the rivers. To protect rivers, the commission must have to be strong legally and in administrative power as well. Our rivers are being polluted as fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other pollutants used in farming are often drained in rivers. This leads to algae growing and making the water deleterious to human health. Oil, petroleum products, industrial effluents are dumped into rivers, for which aquatic species are in danger of extinction. With all the unrestrained dumping of industrial waste the river Buriganga has become more of a black gel with offensive odour. This unpleasant condition of the Buriganga symbolises the general state of many rivers in the country. Though tanneries in Hazaribagh were shifted to Savar, 50 to 60 factories are still operating there which are polluting the Buriganga. Some dyeing factories at Shyampur are polluting the river by discharging untreated waste. Due to the relocation of the tanneries at Savar now Dhaleswari is also suffering the same fate as Buriganga. There are about 230 rivers in our country and as many as 140 million people depend on them for living or for transportation purposes. Draconian measures should, therefore, be taken against the landsharks. Demarcation pillars should be erected properly to protect the rivers. Let us unite and work together to save rivers.

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