Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today came down heavily on the country's environmentalists for their silence about the crucial Mongla-Ghoshiakhali River Channel that was inoperative for long 21 years.
The premier said the channel remained inoperative for long 21 years after 1975 and thus destroyed the habitat of wild animals in the Sundarbans. But the environmentalists are now making a hue and cry for the Sundarbans although the (Rampal) power plant is being set up 14 kilometers away from the Sundarbans, she said.
"I never heard the environmentalists say a word when the Ghoshiakhali channel was closed alongside closing the access points of some 234 connecting canals and leasing them out for shrimp enclosures," she said.
Sheikh Hasina was addressing a function while inaugurating the re-excavated Mongla Ghoshiakhali River channel alongside 11 newly built dredgers and 76 auxiliary vessels from her official Ghanabhaban residence through video conferencing.
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan spoke on the occasion while Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, PM's Political Affairs Adviser HT Imam, Media Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food Ministry Abdul Wadud Dara were present among others, while PM's Principal Secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad moderated it.
The premier said that due to closing of the Ghoshiakhali channel, the marine vessels and ships had to ply through the Shyala river endangering the habitat of dolphins, Royal Bengal Tigers and other wild animals.
After the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975, she said, the BNP and the successive governments did not take any step to dredge the Ghoshiakhali channel, rather misused it in many ways and thus made the Mongla port inoperative.
She said that Ziaur Rahman, Ershad and then Khaleda Zia destroyed the channel through leasing out some 234 connecting canals in the Sundarbans for shrimp enclosures.
Sheikh Hasina said that the movement of vessels through the Shyala River was very much harmful for the Sundarbans.
To maintain the navigability of countrywide rivers and canals, the Prime Minister also put emphasis on conducting round-the-year maintenance dredging.
Sheikh Hasina said she had already ordered the Water Resources Ministry to dredge some 83 big canals near the Sundarbans.