Rajuk impinging on river bank
IT is quite surprising that at a time when heightened consciousness of environmental concerns is the order of the day, we have the predicament of hearing the news of a key development agency of the government flouting environmental laws. Rajuk has filled up 30-50metres inside the river Shitalakhya at the eastern side of the Kanchan bridge for the purpose of developing its Purbachal Town project. This is in clear violation of the existing laws on rivers and canals that up to 50metres from the point where the river water reaches during the high tide should be regarded as river bank.
Little wonder, the river has been losing width and changing bank-line ever since Rajuk's earth filling activity in the area began in 2005. The satellite images are a proof of it.
What is particularly intriguing is that apparently Rajuk has a government approval, that too without any explanatory note that the citizens deserved. The river banks are the given jurisdiction of the Bangladesh Water Development Board and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority. The Bangladesh Water Development Board in particular took issue with the Rajuk to stop encroaching on the river banks that amounted to degrading the environment sustained by the waterways. But these objections fell on deaf ears on both Rajuk and the relevant authorities of the government. For even the government seems to have approved the project without any deference shown to the WDB's opinion and the environmentalists' legitimate concerns.
We know how these lifelines of river belts girdling Shitalakhya, Buriganga and Balu have been almost irreversibly damaged by land grabbing and other commercial activities. And the Prime Minister herself has expressed her concern over the matter and issued directives to put a brake on river grabbing. There are powerful court rulings asking for restoration of river banks. But if the government or any of its agencies should behave like encroachers what is the difference with private party or individual grabbers?
In this context, we urge the government to revisit the issue and ensure that an effective balance be struck between environment and urbanisation.