The wholesale grabbing and filling up of large portions of the 38km long Turag River have reached a stage when it can hardly be called a river anymore. Investigative journalism has revealed that the once ebullient river has turned into a stream at many points where large-scale landfills have permanently altered the course of Turag. That authorities' carefree attitude towards land grabbers is the primary reason for such a disaster is not in contestation. Indeed, none of the government bodies, including BIWTA, Rajuk, Department of Environment and the police, who have any authority to stand up to such illegal activity have lifted much of a finger to put a stop to these encroachers over the years.
With such loose monitoring, it is not at all surprising to find vested interests of all shades and hues ranging from industries to real estate agents making merry in marking off chunks of the river, bringing dredgers and carving out new areas for development. The so-called anti-encroachment drives launched by authorities every now and then hardly have any impact on such activity. The strangling of a river like Turag has far-reaching environmental consequences for a city like Dhaka. It affects the flood flow zone in the Detailed Area Plan of the city. And while different departments whine about not having enough personnel to do their job and with the lack of coordination between various agencies, the future of the capital city is being put grave to risk. Can we truly afford to go on ignoring an ecological disaster in the making?