Conserve lakes, wetlands for Dhaka's survival | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 08, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 08, 2011

Conserve lakes, wetlands for Dhaka's survival

Urban planners tell workshop

Lakes and wetlands in Dhaka must be demarcated immediately on the ground as they have been earmarked in the urban plan to save them, said the leading urban planners and researchers at a workshop in the city yesterday.
The cities like Dhaka, Kolkata and Delhi cannot survive without conservation of urban lakes, they said.
Water bodies are vital for preventing urban flood and groundwater recharge, said Susmita Sengupta, deputy coordinator of Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that organsied the workshop jointly with Bangladesh Institute of Planners (BIP).
They also serve as sources of water for agriculture and industries as well as day-to-day purposes, she said.
But urban lakes and wetlands in Dhaka and Indian cities alike have long been ruthless prey to encroachment and pollution, she said, adding that the manner of lake destruction is similar in both the countries.
The urban water bodies could not be saved as yet due to lack of enforcement of relevant laws, said Advocate Manzill Murshid.
A dedicated department should be instituted for water bodies, he said.
"We cannot afford any more loss of water bodies and agriculture land," said Dr Ishrat Islam, associate professor of urban and regional planning at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).
Political will for conservation of lakes and other water bodies is crucial, as the lake grabbers maintain strong connection with political quarters and do not care about regulatory agencies and mass media, she said.
Lakes, ponds and canals together constitute a whole system and it has to be addressed with ecological sensitivity, said architect Iqbal Habib, member secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon.
An estimated one million people, 23 percent of Kolkata population, depend on pond water for bathing and washing, reducing load on formal water supply system, said Dr Mohit Kumar Ray, director of Vasundhara Foundation, Kolkata.
There are around 5,000 ponds, including some centuries old, in the Kolkata metropolitan area, he said.
He mentioned two decade-long successful community movements in Kolkata to conserve a pond in Jheel Road and another in Kazi Pukur that are now community-managed and provide better water for the local people.
Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla, programme director of CSE, and Prof Sarwar Jahan, president of BIP, chaired different sessions of the workshop.

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