Dirt-filling in ponds in the Rajshahi city is going on violating ‘playground, open space, park and natural water reservoir conservation act 2000’ as the city corporation authorities and Rajshahi Development Authority fail to implement the act for the sake of city dwellers as well as the environment.
According to Rajshahi City Corporation authorities, there were 4,283 ponds in Rajshahi municipality in 1961.
The data show further decline in number of water bodies in the city as in 1981 there were 2,171 ponds and the number of ponds became only 729 in 1991.
The Rajshahi Development Authority also said, according to its recent data, there are only 313 ponds in the city.
The act in its section 5 says: ‘Except the condition of this Act, playfield, open space, park and natural water bodies which are marked cannot be used another way, it cannot be rented, leased or cannot be handover any other use.’
According to the section 6, if any owner of water bodies wanted to fill that with dirt or build any structure on the place, ‘should apply through the correlated authority by writing the cause to the government.’
The ongoing dirt-filling in ponds in the city shows a clear violation of the law by the inhabitants as well as government bodies.
The Rajshahi City Corporation authorities, ignoring mass protests, filled two ponds with dirt at Baliapukur and it said the filling was essential to widen a road, but the city dwellers claimed that the RCC filled the ponds with dirt for its own purposes not for road construction.
The RCC also filled a pond with land at Tikapara last month to set up a residential building.
Recently, an owner of a pond at Bhatapara in the city has started filling his pond with dirt without seeking permission from concerned authorities and RDA is yet to take any initiative against the filling operation.
The pond owner, Khokan Ahmed, also a physician, admitted that he was filling the pond with dirt without informing and seeking permission from either RDA or RCC.
City dwellers Ismail Hossain and Hashem Ali, who filled their pond with dirt at Shalbagan in March 2010, said they were ignorant about the law.
Rajshahi Environment Movement convenor Abu Rayhan Masud told New Age that they would go for legal steps and go on movement against the RCC and RDA, demanding immediate punishment of the authorities.
He said the unplanned dirt-filling would seriously hamper the works of firemen while fighting a fire incident in the city.
Abu Sayed Ahmed, former Rajshahi divisional coordinator of Bangladesh Environ-mental Layers’ Association, blamed RDA, as it did not take legal steps against dirt-filling of the ponds.
He thinks the city dwellers should go on demonstration against illegal dirt-filling of the ponds and should start movement to raise awareness against such works.
When contacted, RCC superintending engineer Ashraful Haque told New Age that it was the duty of RDA to take necessary steps in this regard.
He, however, said RCC must help RDA if they sought help or any cooperation to stop the works.
The RDA acting chairman, Abdur Rahim, said they would soon take actions against the people who were filling ponds with dirt violating laws.