Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) on Friday urged the government to form a powerful and effective ‘National River Protection Authority’ to keep alive the moribund rivers in the country. It also stressed the need for a ‘national river policy’ to protect the rivers from unauthorised occupiers. The green organisation also placed eight-point demand in this regard through a news conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) in the city. General Secretary of BAPA Dr Abdul Matin, who presented the keynote paper said, a high powered and effective ‘National River Protection Authority’ is needed to protect the rivers and water bodies in the country.
“As an easy alternative, the government can transform the proposed commission into a powerful and effective organisation to look after the rivers,” he said.
“Government should adopt a national river policy to provide the commission with required guideline and executive power to ensure the rivers’ protection across the country,” Matin added.
All obstacles and commercial activities should be removed from the course of rivers to maintain their usual navigability, he added.
Appreciating the government’s initiative to form a national river commission, Executive Member of BAPA and columnist Syed Abdul Maksud raised his doubt on whether it would meet the people’s desire.
“We don’t want to see it as a feeble organisation which can only place its suggestion. We want it to act as an effective authority with full executive power,” he noted.
The proposed commission should have the authority to evaluate the existing laws to deal with the river protection cases, Professor M Firoze Ahmed said.
“It should have the authority to coordinate the different relevant laws,” he said, adding that the commission should effectively work to implement a ‘free river’ policy.
Professor Asif Nazrul stressed the need for a selection committee to form the commission.
‘Environmentalists, ecologists and experts of the different relevant fields should be included in the committee,” he suggested.
Opinion of the local people must the considered before undertaking any river related project, he added.
Among others, Zakir Hossain, Mohidul Haque Khan and JK Boral also spoke on the occasion.
-With The Independent input