“There is no alternative of keeping the Dhaleshwari River alive to save the Buriganga River and Dhaka city. The government is very convivial about protecting rivers and canals”, said National River Protection Commission (NRPC) Chairman Ataharul Islam. He said, “We will take required steps immediately to revive the Dhaleshwari River.”
NRPC chairman said this while addressing a views-exchange meeting on ‘Save Dhaleshwari River from land grabbers, pollution and ensure of its water flow’ at deputy commissioner’s conference room on 29th October, 2014 arranged by district administration. Ataharul Islam expressed solidarity with the demand of Dhaleshwari Banchao Andolan and BARCIK. Deputy Commissioner of Manikganj Rashida Ferdaus presided over the meeting while Police Superintendent Bidhan Tripura, Additional Deputy Commissioner (revenue) Aslam Hossain, Joint Secretaries of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan—Sharif Jamil, Shahjahan Mridha and Mihir Biswas, Convener of Dhaleshwari Banchao Andolan Azaharul Islam, President of Manikganj Press Club Golam Sarwar Sanu, Chairman of Dhalla Union Parishad Abdul Ali addressed the programme, among others.
BARCIK, Manikgonj Resource Centre has been working for the protection of various water sources, rivers of manikgonj district as well as for establishing local people’s rights to these sources since long. As per common concentration BARCIK, Manikgonj Resource Center has been jointly working with Dhaleshwari Nodi banchao Andolon in order to protect the heart of the Manikgonj City, Dhaleshwari River from dying. Being armed with this goal, they have been organized various view exchange meetings with GO representatives, local people and environmental organization and raised public opinion throw mass gathering, village meeting, publication of bill board and leaflet.
A mass-gathering and human chain, which is a continuation of these works, had been organized in the last month at Zagir Union Parished where local people from Dhaleshwari River basin, UP members, river lover people, journalists as well as the environmentalist organization PABA and BAPA participated. On that event, speakers called for a more strong public response & opinion to protect the Dhaleshwari ensuring that they will be on the side of movement until the end. Moreover, the speakers revealed that the massive siltation, illegal exposure to river and industrial pollution is responsible for the present situation of this river. Thereafter, a number of national electronic and print media reported the event. Moreover, as part of the continuation of this movement, meeting has been organized with and memorandum has been provided to the District Commissioner. District Commissioner informed to DDLG in order to raise this issue in the upcoming meeting and also discussed with chairman, National River Protection Commission. Chairman of NRC expressed interest to attend a view exchange meeting with various stakeholders as well as to visit the massive siltation areas. Subsequently, District Commissioner called for this meeting and invited various stakeholders along with BARCIK to participate.
At the beginning of the meeting a documentary on Dhaleshwari River, produced by BARCIK, was displayed where the brief introduction of Dhaleshwari River, present and past scenario of river including local people, environmentalist and various stakeholders’ opinion regarding the necessity of river are delineated audio-visually. Numbers of discussants in the open discussion mentioned that the Dhaleshwari River is the main river of the Manikgonj district as well as is the water-way to the water sources to Dhaka City. The mighty Dhaleshwari River once overflowed through Manikganj and connected the Kaliganga and the Jamuna River now is almost choked to death. It is sand all over the Dhaleshwari, a tributary of the Jamuna, and is gradually turning into paddy fields or grazing ground due to lack regular dredging. However, the meandering river has two branches. The main stream flows from north of Manikganj and joins the other branch, the Kaliganga, in south of Manikganj. Farmers of twelve unions of three upazilas of the district have been facing problem in irrigating their croplands as there is no water in Dhaleshwari River even in the rainy season. Dhaleshwari River has turned into a canal because of rising river-bed and fall in water level. Irrigation, navigation, environment and biodiversity have been facing a threat in both the upstream and downstream areas due to thin flow of waters in the rivers, caused by massive siltation, grabbing and illegal establishments, lack of well-planned infrastructure development and industrial pollution.
The speakers from PABA and BAPA emphasized upon the environmental and ecological aspect of river and life. They mentioned that river is a living thing and revival of river should be in way so that it can survive with its innate nature. For this reason, in order to restore the natural flow, establishment of circular connection with various natural water sources will be necessary rather than only dredging the siltation areas. They also urged to the respective authority to stop industrial and other sources to water pollution immediately by implementing effective monitoring system. They also assured to provide assistance in case of developing industrial environment friendly waste recycling system.
Md ataharula Islam, Charirman-NRPC, said, “I am one of you. I just want to become a part of this social movement. Certainly, this movement is social and for our survival as we can’t live without river. All the civilization centered around and developed based on river. Your movement for protecting river will be role model to all other parts of the country.” He went on saying, “The job will not finish by dredging or excavating the river bed rather we have to consider the safety of natural flow in case of having any kind of infra-structure development related to the river throughout the upcoming future.” In the meantime, he urged the Water Development Board (WDB) to give information about siltation, grabbing and illegal establishments as well as requested the DC to take any necessary steps necessary for the revival of Dhaleshwari River.
After the meeting, NRPC chairman visited Tilli-mukh, the silted opening of the Dhaleshwari River. NRPC Standing Committee Member Alauddin, DC Rashida Ferdaus, executive engineer of WDB and representatives of Dhaleshwari Bachao Andolan and BARCIK accompanied him during the visit where he summarized the recommendations and probable course of actions came out throughout the discussion and visit:
- All should come forward to take initiative associated with the revival of the Dhaleshwari River.
- A survey team will be formed by the NRPC and based on the findings of the survey report further and necessary actions will be taken determining appropriate methodology.
- District Commissioner will re-examine the sand extraction places and will take adequate steps with the help of relevant departments so that nobody can extract sand from outside of the designated Area.
- The department of Environment will examine on whether the industries have ETP or CETP and will take necessary steps in order to bring the industries under the standard and recommended waste recycling system.