Campaign to save rivers stir action
IT is heartening to note that the fight to save Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakkhya, surrounding the capital as its lifeline, has acquired a new depth and dimension. After the advocacy of the cause by environmental activist groups, The Daily Star's own sustained campaign complemented by others in the print media, timely judicial activism, it is now the Jatiya Sangsad which is bracing up to take its role. They have our full measure of felicitation.
With the four rivers becoming mere shadows of their former selves; what's worse, degenerating into a highly polluted state exacerbated through expropriation by people close to power, the challenge presented is formidable. But the ground seems prepared now for launching determined, well-coordinated action to reclaim the rivers as close to their traditional flows as possible, cleanse the environs and punish the grabbers and polluters in a way that effectively deters the maladies happening again.
As a robust sign of proving equal to the task, the parliamentary standing committee on environment and forest ministry has formed a sub-committee to take steps to save the country's rivers with special emphasis on the four rivers around the capital. The move has certain good features: first, the sub-committee has a two-month deadline to produce its recommendations based on field visits and consultation with representatives from the media and environmental groups. Second, in order to ward off chances of resistance from the polluting industries by way of securing their cooperation in setting up ETP, the owners will be engaged in the process. Third, if necessary, the prevailing law will be given teeth to mete out punishment to those behind river pollution and grabbing.
The sense of urgency and decisiveness with which the JS committee begins its work to grapple with the key issues of the city's environment will have to be sustained till an effective strategy and action plan emerges. We can take hope from the success stories of many a capital city by the river side that was once badly polluted but then reclaimed to a thriving state.
Basically, we keep faith with the fact that if the parliament and the judiciary pull their full weight behind the task of returning the rivers to their rightful owners, the people of the country, there is no reason why the apparent intractability of the problem will not be a thing of the past.