Push to save river campaign
It is good to see that the government is being relentless in its pursuit of reclaiming rivers around the city from the clutches of grabbers and the polluting hands of industries. The heightening concern over moribund rivers that this paper brought to the centre of national discourse only a few months back, the government at the highest level responding to it and judicial activism demanding action -- all seem in place to bolster the massive campaign for river reclamation beginning with Dhaka and taken forward all over the country.
The high powered task force committee on river recovery in its first meeting has directed the deputy commissioners of Dhaka and four surrounding districts to survey and demarcate the rivers Buriganga, Shitalakkhya, Balu and Turag by November 30 in compliance with HC directives. Meanwhile, on the basis of available data on illegal occupation, the government is to launch an eviction drive in and around the capital city in ten days' time.
Eviction, survey, demarcation, further freeing of lands from grabbers and laying of public pavements along the banks by way of protecting the banks and consolidating government control of public assets are important components of the river reclamation campaign. Another equally important task is to have the effluent disgorging industries around the city comply with environmental standards of setting up effluent treatment plants. Then, there is the obligation on the part of hospitals and clinics to refrain from dumping wastes anywhere and everywhere. All these requirements are to be fulfilled under strict supervision of designated authorities and in a state of coordination and synchronisation.
Freeing the rivers from the grabbers and different polluting agents will bring multiple benefits to the nation. It will not only ensure navigability and better communication, ease water-logging and flooding, help buttress pure water supplies, but also conserve the environment by injecting life into dying rivers.
The survival and advancement of Dhaka city is critically dependent on saving the rivers and unless the degradation of the river resource is arrested here and now, the damages may be irreparable. So, the emphasis ought to be not only on a sense of purpose but also on a time-bound action plan. For it is still possible to restore the rivers to life as some of the once-afflicted cities on river banks in the world have proven. The examples are before us to guide us in our collective mission.