Directives to save rivers made meaningless
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) will move the High Court to conserve the Bakhhali river, which has long been enduring a massive onslaught.
The statement was made to reporters by Syeda Rizwana Hasan, CEO of Bela, after she visited several locations along the waterbody in Cox's Bazar today.
Rizwana said the extent of the encroachment has shocked her.
After visiting the river, it seemed directives of all institutions and the High Court to save rivers "have been made meaningless", she said.
The environmental lawyer recalled the High Court's ruling and said it declared rivers to be living things, meaning those who harm rivers will face the same penalties as those who murder someone.
"The mangrove forest along the river's edge has been completely destroyed. As a result, the houses built grabbing rivers are seen inundated by tidal water," she said.
Following Rizwana's visit, Mohammad Zakaria, the upazila nirbahi officer of Cox's Bazar Sadar, and Md Zillur Rahman, assistant commissioner (land), made a sudden trip to the river.
Mohammad Zakaria told reporters that they knocked down a structure along the Bakkhali river recently and forest officials were asked to reforest the area.
"All structures constructed to block rivers will be demolished. There are some legal issues because the ownership status of a few riverfront plots was altered, he said.
He added that they were in talks to clear the river area with the National River Conservation Committee, the district administration, and the relevant authority.
Al Amin Parvej, additional commissioner of Cox's Bazar, said they asked the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority to demarcate the river. Once it is completed, they will launch the eviction drive.
Local environmentalists claimed that about 600 acres of mangrove forest were cleared in order to grab the area belonging to the Bakkhali river.