A dumping zone called Turag river
Over the past few decades, many of our rivers have faced slow death while some are on the verge of being robbed of life due to indiscriminate dumping of all kinds of waste and unabated grabbing. Despite repeated pleas from activists, nothing much has changed. The four rivers surrounding Dhaka have also been frequently in the news for their sorry state – they are being grabbed and polluted not only by influential quarters but also by government entities who are supposed to protect them. This is most unfortunate.
According to a report by this daily, Turag River is now facing a serious threat from none other than the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC). The eastern shore of the river, which falls under the jurisdiction of DNCC, is gradually being filled up with industrial and household waste. Reportedly, the river channel has significantly shrunk from Gabtoli to Nawaberbagh, as DNCC workers are dumping a huge amount of waste on the banks of both sides of the river. Moreover, the walkway being constructed by the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has also fallen victim to indiscriminate dumping of garbage. DNCC workers are reportedly hampering the work of the BIWTA by dumping waste on their construction sites. In some cases, the DNCC even crossed the river's demarcation pillars while doing so.
We fail to understand why the DNCC authorities would allow their workers to dump waste like this. What possible reason could they have, if any, for not performing their duty of protecting riverbanks from harm? How will we save what's left of our rivers if government agencies themselves pollute them? Reportedly, the BIWTA requested the DNCC to not dump waste several times in the past, but to no avail so far. In February 2019, the Turag River was given the status of a "living entity" by the High Court, denoting rivers' significance in our life. The way relevant authorities continue to treat rivers is thus most baffling.
Evidently, nothing much has changed since the High Court gave a 17-point directive in 2009 chalking out clear guidelines to save our ailing rivers and water bodies. At that time, the court asked the authorities concerned to demarcate the rivers after holding surveys, set boundary pillars, publish a list of legitimate leaseholders of river land, evict grabbers, build walkways, plant trees, dredge the rivers, etc. Has any of those directives been implemented? Not really, as various reports indicate. Rather, all rivers across the country, including the four surrounding the capital, have been facing systematic damage. Why is it so difficult for the authorities to abide by the HC guidelines and save this most precious natural resource of ours?
We urge the DNCC to stop dumping waste on the banks of Turag immediately. The BIWTA, the National River Conservation Commission and other related agencies should also play the role expected of them. We must protect our rivers from continued pollution and encroachment, and must dissuade government agencies from leading this carnage.