The National River Conservation Commission’s recommendation to hand jail terms to river-polluters should come as no surprise given the rampant encroachment of our rivers. From big corporations to government institutions, everyone seems to have taken our rivers for granted and claimed their share of the pie.
A report published by this daily on December 29 revealed that a government textile institute had been set up by illegally occupying land in the middle of the Arial Kha in Madaripur Sadar Upazila. What is even worse, the river has also been encroached upon to build a maritime institute. If this is how the state treats our rivers—an essential but fast-disappearing national resource—what else can we expect from the other illegal grabbers?
No wonder industries are freely dumping their waste into our rivers with impunity; no wonder that vast streams of our rivers and canals have been claimed and filled up by business houses to turn them into commercial and residential areas. According to the report published by this daily, thanks to waste and sewage dumping in the Balu River in Gazipur’s Kaliganj, the colour of the river has changed and led to it emitting a stench. The river lacks fish or aquatic biodiversity. The waters of Dhaleshwari and Balu have been polluted to an extent that it cannot be used by people anymore—those who are using the waters of these rivers are contracting various kinds of skin and gastrointestinal diseases.
It is high time our policymakers incorporated the recommendation of the National River Conservation Commission to slap prison terms on river polluters, made in the draft amendment to National River Conservation Commission Act, 2013, and enshrined it in a law. River polluters—be it commercial entities or government bodies—should be handed just and timely punishment to save our rivers from dying untimely deaths.