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Save the rivers

Encroachment, pollution rampant

By STAFF REPORTER
03rd-Mar-2014       
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At least  five crore square feet of land  on  two sides of the  river Turag  is under possession of  government or non-government establishments, Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon  (BAPA)  sources said.
BAPA  with Bangladesh  River Protection Movement  jointly  conducted a survey from  Amin Bazar Bridge point to Faidabad at Uttara before releasing its findings of rampant river pollution and encroachment.
BAPA  secretary general  Dr. A. Matin   giving  a  gloomy  picture  of the rivers  raised  demands for saving the country's  rivers including Buriganga, Balu, Shitalakhya and  Turag from encroachment and pollution.
The demands also included eviction  of permanent and temporary establishments   from  both sides of the rivers, stop dumping of wastes there and placement of demarcation pillars at right places.
He said  that they have  identified 109 points  of Turag river , where pollution and encroachment was rampant.  Of the 109 points, he said, 77 are at Mirpur, Ashulia and Uttara while 32 at Savar, Joydevpur and Tongi.
Matin said Dhaka  Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA),  Bangladesh Water Development Board  and  some industries release untreated sewer and industrial and municipal wastes into the river.  The local administration, he said, had installed a total of  2,000 pillars  for demarcation of the Turag river following a High Court directive but   only 29   pillars  were installed correctly. Most other pillars, he said, were inside  the river.  He said during a recent visit  it was found  that  many  of the pillars  were either invisible due to encroachment or broken or had disappeared.
The authorities had removed sand stocked  in the river Turag during a mobile court  drive to reclaim  the river from encroachers in line with the High Court order in January, 2013.  The authorities also demolished some illegal structures in their drive  at Sinnirtek in the city's Mirpur Beribandh area to implement the High Court order  at that  time , it should be recalled.  
The High Court had asked 14 officials and agencies concerned to protect the banks of the river near Sinnirtek area and a portion of the river Sitalakhya in Narayanganj from encroachment and pollution through eviction of all illegal establishments on the banks.  The relevant authorities conducted such drives thrice since 2010,  it should be recalled.
Some sand traders talking to the media said that they run their business with the blessings of a section of police and influential   local political quarters. The High Court  had ordered the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) to protect four rivers  from encroachment and pollution through eviction of all illegal establishments identifying their banks.
 Drives against illegal establishments following media campaign usually do not  effectively solve the problems of encroachment or pollution as there is nexus  between those in the illegal business and a section of the administration.
During a visit to some of the areas  on the banks of the Sitalakhya,  Turag and Buriganga it was  found encroachment and pollution continues.  It is time that the matter is taken with all seriousness  to find a permanent solution to the problem  of encroachment and  river pollution,  it is felt.

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