Govt laxity to blame for river grabbing: Speakers
Though the country has multiple laws regarding the conservation of rivers, the grabbers have become more desperate to encroach rivers given the laxity of those who implement the laws, alleged Mujibor Rahman Howlader, former chairman of National River Conservation Committee (NRCC).
He came up with the observation in a seminar, marking "World Earth Day" at Dhaka Reporters Unity yesterday. Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) organised the event.
He also alleged that some government officials work for consultancy groups. This creates a conflict of interest, which often hinders the fight against grabbers.
"We must change our mindset. Only then the condition of our rivers will improve," he said.
Referring to statistics, he said during his tenure in NRCC in 2019, 32.37 percent of grabbers were evicted. But the eviction drive remains halted at present.
"It is our constitutional duty to conserve the overall environment, including our rivers. There are instructions from the prime minister regarding this but the reality is different...," he added.
Prof Khandakar Bojlul Haque, vice-president of Bapa, said, "We must stop the devastation being inflicted on earth..."
Sharmin Murshid, former member of NRCC, said the state-owned organisations and industries can't evade the responsibility of polluting and destroying rivers. "Those who make the law, don't care about it. This has become the norm in the country."
Sharif Jamil, secretary of Bapa, said there are various types of rivers depending on their location and areas.
At times, when the government takes initiatives to conserve rivers, it ushers in hope. But the move to reclaim rivers falls flat due to wrong demarcation, which in a way, legalises river grabbing," he said.
"Without proper execution of laws, the effort to reclaim rivers will go in vain," he added.
Among others, rivers and waterbodies affair secretary of Bapa Halim Khan, member of National River Alliance Syeda Roksana Khan, president of Doctors for Health and Environment Dr M Abu Sayed, executive member of Bapa MS Siddiqui, joint secretary of Bapa Humayun Kabir Suman, river movement leader Saiful Islam, Manis Hossen and labour leader Amzad Ali were present.