Strategy of Environmental Development Foundation (SED Foundation), a non-profit organisation based in Dhaka, Bangladesh organised a webinar on the importance of rivers for the ecology and economy of Bangladesh and the role of National River Conservation Commission. The webinar took place on 12 September, 2020.
Although Bangladesh is known as the land of rivers, the present scenario depicts a morbid condition for waterbodies. Despite the efforts of governments, civil societies and NGOs, rivers are polluted on a large scale. In this backdrop, SED organised the webinar to facilitate a scholarly discussion.
The speakers of the webinar were all reputed scholars and administrative personnel in their respective fields. The list of the speakers includes Dr. Muzibur Rahman Howlader, Chairman, National River Conservation Commission; Syeda Rizwana Hasan, the Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA) and Advocate of Appellate Division, Supreme Court of Bangladesh; A. B. M. Imdadul Haque Khan Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Chief Editor, SED Journal of Environmental Studies; and Mohammad Golam Sarwar, Lecturer, Department of Law, University of Dhaka. The webinar was moderated by Javed Rasin, Founder and President, SED Foundation.
A. B. M. Imdadul Haque Khan gave the inaugural speech addressing the national and international legal framework for river conservation. As the chief editor of SED Journal of Environmental Studies, he voiced out the contribution of the research in advocacy and wellbeing for the river. "We find young people interested in doing research on rivers" he said and expressed his optimism in the research for protecting the river. Mohammad Golam Sarwar gave a sumptuous analysis on the Appellate Division's judgment on the personality of river that considered rivers as living entity. The historical background and legal rationale behind this type of ruling were reflected in his speech. "Proposed comprehensive river law can be promising to face river pollution as a penal offence if speedy trial can be ensured. In the meantime, existing laws can also be useful in the same regard," said Mohammad Golam Sarwar.
When it comes to any environmental issue, none can overlook the expertise and experience of Syeda Rizwana Hasan and such merit was truly evident in her speech. She talked about the crucial role of NGOs and civil society on environmental matters and how these twofold action plan could actually make a difference. "We need to really mobilise the communities; especially we need to create awareness among those who do not know their constitutional rights," said Syeda Rizwana Hasan.
Dr. Muzibur Rahman Howlader discussed in brief about the overall contribution made by NRCC as the guardian of domestic rivers. He also shed light on the bureaucratic issues. Dr Howlader said, "If District Commissioners are not provided with necessary money, how can they remove illegal infrastructures on the riverbanks?" The whole webinar was enriched with valuable insights from Javed Rasin.
Event covered by Istiaq Nur Muhit, Program Manager, SED Foundation.