Although there are guidelines from the highest court in the land to save the rivers, the authorities concerned have failed miserably to stop the pollution and encroachment. Thus, the rivers around the city of Dhaka are always polluted.
In an interview with UNB, Dr. Manjur Ahmed, Chairman of the National Rivers Conservation Commission (NRCC), assigned a significant amount of blame to Dhaka WASA.
Dhaka WASA’s inability to build enough sewer lines has created a dire situation. Factories in and around Dhaka discharge their waste into the rivers surrounding the city. The combination of household and industrial waste has rendered rivers like Buriganga and Shitalakhya “ecologically dead”.
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“All human waste produced in Dhaka city goes into the four rivers surrounding it. This happens due to the inability of Dhaka WASA to manage the waste. the same pipe. It was WASA’s duty to set up separate pipes for proper waste flow. They did not do this and as a result the rivers are quickly polluted,” Manjur said.
The NRCC chairman added that although much of the land grabbed by the rivers had been reclaimed, the pollution could not be stopped because those responsible were not subject to the law.
“At least four million people live in and around the city of Dhaka, but there is not a single river or body of water where people can bathe. Population density, unmanageable development, upstream water withdrawal and climate change affect the country’s waterways. As an organization working to conserve rivers, the NRCC is acutely aware of these issues,” Manjur said.
About the NRCC, Manjur said his organization’s role is to identify problems and provide recommendations to the relevant authorities.
“NRC is a relatively new organization. Some recommendations we made have already been implemented and others are pending with the authorities. So far, we have identified 57,000 illegal invaders and evicted 14,000 of them with the help of district administrations and the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA),” Manjur said.
Regarding the demarcation of river boundaries, the NRCC Chairman said it was a difficult task.
“The boundaries of the Buriganga, Turag and Balu rivers have already been demarcated. I hope the rest of the rivers will also be demarcated gradually,” Manjur said.
Regarding the master plan that NRCC was preparing, Manjur said that it is not yet finished.
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“The master plan preparation process has been interrupted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I hope we will be able to complete the master plan in a short period of time,” the NRCC chairman said.
During the interview, he informed UNB that his organization aims to end the pollution of the rivers surrounding Dhaka by March 17, 2023, the anniversary of the birth of Nation Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“We will issue directives to all public and private establishments in Dhaka and adjacent areas to stop polluting the rivers surrounding the city very soon. Legal action will be taken if anyone breaks the rules and does not comply with the guidelines,” Manjur said.