Empower river commission
Though parliament has been passing many bills, they did not bother to enact the NRCC law, alleged Mujibor Rahman Hawlader, former chairman of National River Conservation Commission (NRCC), yesterday.
He made the remark at a seminar titled "Dialogue on empowering NRCC to comply with court order to protect rivers" in the capital, organised by Waterkeepers Bangladesh.
The former NRCC boss said they drafted the law in 2020 but the draft law has remained immobilised since then. In the meantime, the parliament has passed many bills except the NRCC law.
"The draft law was prepared to make NRCC a stronger and independent entity so that it can protect the territorial integrity of rivers," he said. He also alleged that many did not want NRCC to be formed.
"The river governing bodies (ministries dealing with rivers) did not want the commission to be formed. It was the river activists and the media who created public opinion in favour of it. At one stage, the High Court intervened to form the commission," he said.
Those who got appointed must be bold and ready to speak out. They must be on the fields to see the real condition of rivers.
He suggested appointing qualified people to the commission to rule out nepotism.
"Those who got appointed must be bold and ready to speak out. They must be on the fields to see the real condition of rivers. When I was the chairperson, I managed to make a list of 63,000 river grabbers from deputy commissioners across the country."
He also alleged that NRCC is often neglected when it comes to funding allocation.
Mujibor Rahman alleged that the water resources ministry could not declare floodplain areas of a single river yet.
"This is creating more scope for grabbers to prey upon the waterbodies.
Prof Ahmad Kamruzzaman of Stamford University said the government has taken many initiatives to protect rivers. "But in reality, the initiatives fell flat due to its inefficiency."
"Our initiatives fall flat because we don't have well thought out, modern scientific river policy. We must enact the law soon so that NRCC gets stronger in its endeavour," he said.
Sharif Jamil, coordinator of Waterkeepers Bangladesh, chaired the seminar while Mohammed Golam Sarwar, assistant professor of law at Dhaka University, presented the keynote on NRCC law.