A river indistinguishable from a canal is no river
It appears no amount of coverage or warning is enough to stop the onslaughts on our rivers. Rivers are suffocating to death and, through our actions or inactions, we are all complicit in that. This was once again highlighted by a photo published by this daily on Tuesday revealing the ever-worsening state of the Karatoya River in Bogura. The river, from the picture, looks almost indistinguishable from a canal thanks to encroachment and pollution. Its water has been blackened by the waste and sewage regularly discharged into it, giving it an unnatural colour. The river thus is dying—shrinking, as per a 2018 survey, by a fifth of its total width at some points—but no one seems to care.
How is it that a country known for its rivers is so adamant on seeing their destruction? From unregulated waste disposal to grabbing of land to lifting sand, the mechanisms of destruction are many but preventive measures are scarce, if any. Only last Friday, we wrote in this column about how multiple rivers—Louhajang in Tangail, Mayur in Khulna, and Sonai in Sylhet—are struggling to breathe due to unabated encroachment and pollution. For this, the greed and neglect of both individuals and institutions—including those run by the government—are equally responsible.
The woes plaguing Karatoya in particular have been traced back to, among other factors, the construction of a three-vent regulator in Khalshi village in 1996. While the structure has reportedly served its initial purpose of saving the village from flooding, it has also caused it to remain dry for most of the year, resulting in obstruction of fish migration, pollution, and water stagnation which, in turn, helps with the breeding of mosquitoes and other disease-carrying organisms. This again shows lack of planning and care that is facing our rivers.
This has to stop. The relevant authorities—including the National River Conservation Commission—must put an end to the rivercide being committed across the country. Rivers are national assets, and they must be protected for our own sake.