World Rivers Day 77 rivers disappear from BD map 6,000 hectares land is lost every year due to river erosion

25 September 2022


Staff Reporter :
At least 77 rivers have totally disappeared from the map of Bangladesh, with their beds serving as croplands, experts on rivers said.
Besides, river erosion remains the worst natural disaster in the country and about 6,000 hectares of land is lost  every year due to this problem. As a result, a large number of people also become landless every year.
Against this backdrop, Bangladesh observes the World Rivers Day today (Sunday) like elsewhere across the globe.
In absence of sustainable plan to prevent river erosion, valuable properties, roads, markets, schools, colleges, mosques, madrassas and graveyards are constantly disappearing under the river on a regular basis because of river erosion across the country.
Though the government has been spending crores of taka in constructing dams, roads and dumping blocks to prevent river erosion by different departments including Bangladesh Water Development Board, most of these efforts have gone ineffective, the green activists of the country said.
Experts noted that rivers are disappearing due to the unplanned construction of embankments and culverts, unabated encroachment, the absence of dredging, the lack of water flow, urbanisation, siltation, earthquakes, climate changes and construction of barrages and withdrawal of water with the construction of dams in the upstream.
There were about 30,000 km of waterways in the country. But now major and minor rivers streams provide a waterway network of no more than 6,000 km during full monsoon, while it shrinks to about 3,814km in the dry season.
According to a survey by the Netherlands Engineering Consultants (NEDECO) of the Netherlands, carried out between 1965 and 1967, some 310 large and small rivers were flowing across the country, while the National River Protection Commission (NRPC) has claimed that around 410 large and small rivers are still flowing in the country.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has restored a total of 2,340 km of waterways by spending Tk 1617.02 crore in the last 10 years the dredging projects to restore the country's 53 important rivers in two phases and to increase their navigability thereby keeping the waterways navigable round the year.
Though the government took up a 10-year project in July 2012 at a cost of Tk 1,923 crore to develop a total of 2,386 km of waterways by 2021, but the BIWTA has successfully completed 98 per cent work by June this year.
With urbanisation and development fast replacing a river-centric, agro-based economy, the gouna nouka (goods-carrying boats), which were once a common sight on riverine stretches of Bangladesh, have now become relics of a pastoral age.
Environmentalists have hailed the government plan as a good step. "If the project is implemented, the country's overall environment will change and its rivers will get life again," Abu Naser Khan, chairman of Poribesh Bachao Andalan (POBA), said.
Terming rivers as the lifeline of the country, the green activist rued that some unscrupulous people were involved in grabbing land by filling up the rivers. "Stern action should be taken as per the country's law in order to save the country's rivers from the clutches of these land grabbers," he said.
Rivers shape civilisation, culture, communication, cuisine, economy, ecology, heritage and history of this delta country, he said adding that but now all that is in jeopardy from dams, diversions, pollution, encroachment, ecologically insensitive projects and indiscriminate sand mining of the riverbeds.
 "The new regulations and institutions set up to protect rivers are unable to control the depredations in those places where the rivers flow and people depend on the rivers," he said.
Many rivers like the Chitra, Daudkhali, Chengrail, Ghanoraj, Betna, Mukuleswari, Labangabati, Herther, Atharobeki, Salta, Dakua Khal, Sui, Dhanu, Balardi, Phutki, Mora Kumar and Muchikhali have completely vanished from Bangladesh's map.
Besides, most portions of rivers like the Padma, Ganges, Teesta, Brahmaputra, Jamuna, Dhaleswari, Sandhya, Meghna, Buriganga, Shitalakhya and Bangalee have already dried up because of the irresponsibility of local residents and the government's negligence, complained green activists and river experts.
About 45 rivers like the Kaliganga, Bangshi, Banar, Patnai, Jadukatha, Manu, Mogra, Dakatia, Dhorla, Old Brahmaputra, Mohananda, Arialkha, Gorai, Hura Sagor, Karotoa, Bibiana, Pagla, Rakti, Dakua, Barak, Patnai, Kangsha, Turag, Nabaganga, Ichamati, Madhumati, Dumuria, Someswari, Balu, Jamuneswari and Dhaleswari are about to die, Emdadul Haque, an expert on rivers, told The New Nation.
Around 77 rivers have disappeared from the map of Bangladesh, Haque said, adding that most of the rivers have also died because of unplanned construction by the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED).

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