Senior Secretary Prof Shamsul Alam yesterday said ensuring free flowing of rivers will be a key objective of the government's Delta Plan 2100.
He said this while addressing a seminar on “Climate Change Impacts at River Basins: Upstream and Downstream Linkages” at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka.
“Our main theme in the delta plan is 'let the rivers flow, let the rivers live',” said Prof Shamsul, also member of the planning ministry's General Economic Division (GED).
Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) in association Himalayan Adaptation, Water, and Resilience (HI-AWARE) arranged the seminar.
The Delta Plan, which aims to provide food and water security and fight natural disasters, was approved at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on Tuesday. The Ganges Barrage project has been included in the plan as a top priority project.
The GED has prepared the draft of the plan with assistance from the Netherlands government and World Bank.
Prof Shamsul, who placed the plan at Tuesday's NEC meeting, said at the first stage the government will be implementing about 80 projects at an estimated cost of US $37 billion by 2030.
As per the plan, rivers would be channelised and sediments would be removed, he said, adding feasibility studies will take place to know whether channelising of rivers and removal of sediments will accelerate river erosion. The plan has been made based on scientific data, he added.
BCAS Executive Director Dr Atiq Rahman said unlike many other deltas the sedimentation rates at the Bengal delta are relatively high while these sedimentations are also creating new lands.
What happens in the highlands has serious implication in the lowlands such as the Bengal delta, he said, adding, “These linkages are difficult and complex.”
Peter de Vries, an expert on water management at the Dutch embassy, said the delta plan's integrated elements are knowledge and research-based activities while regional dimension is another important element of it.
Philippus Wester, principal investigator of HI-AWARE, ICIMOD; and KS Murali, senior programme officer of International Development Research Centre, New Delhi spoke at the event, among others.