National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) Chairman Dr Muzibur Rahman Howlader has vowed to show no leniency towards those who encroach on and pollute rivers in Bangladesh.
The NRCC chairman sounded the warning while speaking to the reporters at Chattogram Circuit House on Monday.
“We are going to take stern action to free rivers from illegal occupation. The commission has already sent necessary directives to the deputy commissioners concerned in this respect. The encroachment did not happen overnight and the encroachers are very powerful. So we request the police department to come forward to reclaim the rivers of the country,” said Dr Muzibur.
“We can instantly plant trees, set up eco-parks and pavements for the pedestrians to make sure that the rivers are not occupied again. There should be coordination between all the government agencies in this regard,” he added.
The NRCC chairman further said: “The commission has decided to pursue a legal battle to free the rivers from illegal occupation. We will soon appoint a panel lawyers to file cases across the country. We must conserve our rivers to ensure our posterity.”
Mentioning that during a recent visit to the Kalurghat Bridge he saw that the Karnaphuli river had shrunk due to encroachment by various industries, Dr Muzibur added that he had asked the DC of Chattogram to take legal action against the errant industries.
“Hakkani Pulp & Paper Mills Ltd set up a permanent structure by encroaching on the bank of the Karnaphuli River. TK Paper Products Ltd of TK Group of Industries was also seen releasing untreated liquid waste directly to the river. We are in favour of mills and factories, but they cannot be set up and run at the cost of rivers,” he said.
The NRCC Chairman also urged the government agencies concerned to construct bridges properly as the rivers would otherwise lose navigability.
“Please take the full width of the river into consideration before constructing a bridge. Silt is deposited and navigability is lost if any bridge shorter than the river’s original width is constructed,” he said.
Referring to the illegal structures on Karnaphuli river, the NRCC Chairman added: “We will write to the Land and Finance ministries seeking a budgetary allocation to conduct eviction drives. If need be, we will arrange the funds. A fund crunch cannot hinder eviction drives.”
On August 16, 2016, the High Court had directed the authorities concerned to remove 2,181 structures illegally built on the banks of the Karnaphuli in response to a writ petition.