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Govt must carry out court order to save the rivers

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03rd-Jul-2019       
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THE High Court on Monday declared that river grabbing and its pollution are criminal offences. The court ordered the government to amend the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) law and incorporate stringent provisions for imprisonment and hefty fines for the offences and to effectively empower the NRCC. The judgment came following a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh. The court observed that killing a river is killing both the present and future generations. To protect rivers from grabbing and pollution, the court issued a 17-point directive.
As an example, the grabbing and pollution of the Turag River has reached such a extent that the court had to declare it a "person" and a living entity. The Turag is the third river in the world to receive the status. A river in Columbia and another in India has such status. The court termed the NRCC as the legal guardian of all rivers and asked to act as like as their "parents". The state must act as the trustee of all rivers, hills, sea beaches, forests, canals, beels and other waterbodies while the NRCC would remain bound to protect them. Any government authority, including the Planning Commission, LGED, Water Development Board, BIWTA, and BADC, have to obtain the NRCC's no-objection certificate prior to going for any new scheme for any rivers, canals, and waterbodies.
The historic verdict came at a time when river-grabbing by politically influential quarters and big conglomerates seemed unstoppable. In the verdict, the HC ordered the government to make a list of the grabbers and expose them by publishing the list in the media. It also directed the Election Commission to disqualify the people responsible for river grabbing and pollution from running in any election. As per the direction, river grabbers and polluters would also not be able to get bank loans. The court asked the Education Ministry to aware students about the protection of rivers and water bodies.
The court has done its part. Now the duty of execution rests on the government which is highly influenced by the river grabbers. It's the time to see whether the government acts in accordance with the law.

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