A reckless exercise in harming nature

Jashore government employee must be held accountable for filling up a pond

At a time when the need for protecting our rivers, lakes and ponds has become very urgent, it is frustrating to see the lack of efforts to stop those grabbing or polluting them. The result is, one by one, these waterbodies are disappearing or being degraded, with nothing being done to punish those culpable. The latest example of this has been reported at the Manirampur upazila of Jashore, where, according to a recent Prothom Alo report, a government employee has been filling up a public pond situated next to his house.

By doing so, he has committed at least two crimes. First, he disregarded the law prohibiting the fill-up of any such waterbody. Secondly, he extracted sand from a nearby river to fill it, which is also illegal. Reportedly, when the residents of the area brought this to the notice of the local Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), the latter directed him to stop it and the work remained suspended for a few days. But it started again soon afterwards, with soil brought from another place.

We wonder what emboldens a person to carry on with such illegal and environmentally destructive activities despite being duty-bound to uphold the law. It may be mentioned that section 4 of the Sand Quarry and Soil Management Act, 2010 strictly prohibits sand or soil extraction in such manner. The Environment Conservation Act 1995 (last updated in 2010) also prohibits it.

Unfortunately, as various reports suggest, these legal provisions are often flagrantly disregarded by powerful land grabbers and encroachers with their political connections shielding them from any legal consequences. The involvement of government employees, or even institutions, in such activities is no surprise either. The truth is, unless we create an environment respectful of the law and our precious natural resources, such activities will continue to happen.

We, therefore, urge the local administration of Jashore to save the pond from being destroyed and take action against the person responsible. With Bangladesh fast losing its natural resources, the government must take stern action against such grabbers and polluters.