4 rivers in critical condition
The people are distressed and disappointed with the apparent blessing turning into a curse as 1,093 industries and factories are encroaching and polluting Buriganga, Shitalakkhya, Balu and Turag, the four rivers that encircle the capital.
According to sources, about 50 big establishments and the influential people are engaged in grabbing the riversides and as a result, 178.50 acres of the 642.20 acres of land acquired by the government for integrated flood control has gone under the occupation of illegal grabbers.
The responsibility for evicting the illegal establishments from the river banks lies with the BIWTA, the owner of the river water is the water resources ministry while the river banks are owned by the shipping ministry and the environment ministry is entrusted with the task of checking water pollution. But no tangible results are achieved as these establishments are lacking any coordination and are showing only negligence.
Due to continued shrinkage and encroachment, the four rivers surrounding Dhaka are now almost dead. They can neither supply necessary water to the city dwellers, nor can they absorb the water drained away from the capital. Consequently, the lives of the city dwellers have become unbearable. But even then, the grabbers are engaged in an evil ‘festival’ of encroachment and filling of the four rivers.
It is learnt that the way for grabbing the rivers was paved by the construction of the town protection embankment and several government establishments on the river by the then Ershad government. But the maximum encroachment on the river took place after the BNP-Jamaat government came to power in 2001. Then influential leaders of different levels were engaged in grabbing. Even after assuming of the power by the present government, the influential local leaders are grabbing the parts of the rivers. The drive to evict them is falling flat.
In this regard, Architect Mobashwer Hossain said that if the government fails to take action against the grabbers and polluters, it will not be possible to save the rivers around the capital.
Due to various complexities, it is not being possible to save the rivers by freeing them from the illegal grabbers as per the directive of the High Court (writ petition no- 3503/ 2009). Rather, by setting boundary pillars in the rivers, opportunity has been created to fill up huge low lands adjacent to Dhaka. As a result of this, Turag and Balu known as the water reservoirs of this city are shrinking.
RAJUK sources said, Ashulia area is marked for reserving water and for that reason no housing company is getting approval there. Many had planned to launch housing project there by purchasing hundreds of bighas of land and due to this vast low land in Ashulia is being filled up.
Water resources minister Anisul Islam Mahmud said all steps will be taken to recover the properties of Water Development board.