Environmental activists Friday demanded a stronger river protection commission with executive powers, terming the proposed one weak and powerless.
They observed that the proposed commission does not evoke a strong confidence in the government’s sincerity to protect rivers from encroachment and pollution.
“The National River Protection Commission should be strong and powerful to execute its decisions independently,” said Md Abdul Matin, secretary general of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa), at a press conference.
The government should ensure participation of all stakeholders, including water and environmental experts, in the river commission – something the proposed act does not entail, he said.
On January 7, the cabinet approved the proposed National River Protection Act 2012, laying the ground for forming a river protection commission.
The government was spurred into action after the High Court directed it to save the country’s rivers from pollution and grabbing, following a writ petition filed by the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh in 2009.
Columnist Syed Abul Maksud thinks the proposed act “does not have any clear directive” on how the commission will work to save the rivers and ensure their navigability.
“The act does not reflect a strong desire to protect the rivers; it shows the government is only abiding by a court order,” he said.
A government River Taskforce is currently working to save rivers, including heavily polluted Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalaksha.