Bangladesh launches campaign to save rivers

June 2nd, 2009 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 2 (IANS) Bangladesh’s lawmakers, media and industry leaders have launched a campaign to ’save’ the rivers around the national capital by evicting encroachers and improving the environment.
Called “Save rivers, Save Dhaka” campaign, the programme was launched Monday by parliament Speaker Abdul Hamid with the participation of The Daily Star newspaper and ‘i’TV channel.

Agriculture Minister Motia Choudhury assured government support. He and Speaker Abdul Hamid resolved to come up with a law that would end encroachment.

The Daily Star has undertaken a mission to focus on the dying rivers Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakhya that encircle Dhaka, the 400-year-old capital.

The newspaper has been campaigning to end the encroachment. The banks have been encroached and even ’sold’.

Bangladesh is a riverine country with numerous river systems, the larger ones being Padma, Meghna and Brahmaputra.

Poor river management, silting, absence of dredging and the rising population have reduced the country’s riverbed from 5,000 km to 3,600 km, according to a recent report of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).

The government is taking measures to carry out dredging of rivers since shipping activity at its river ports, among them Chittagong, Mangla and Khulna has been badly hit.

“We must save our rivers, which have been seriously polluted and partly grabbed. Influential people whoever they are cannot be any barrier to the justified demands of common people,” said Hamid.

Abdur Razzak, chairman of the standing committee on the Ministry of Water Resources, said it is not the absence of laws, but the negligence in their application that has almost killed the rivers surrounding the capital.

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