THE High Court Division’s directive for the deputy commissioner of Dhaka to prevent all sorts of encroachment on canals and water bodies in the district and to stop construction undertaken by influential land grabbers to maintain the natural flow of water is welcome as illegal encroachment on the canals and the dumping of waste into them go unabated. There were about 78 canals in the capital Dhaka, but none of them exists now — all being grabbed by influential quarters. Their absence has made stagnation of rainwater a perennial problem for all here. Many canals and natural water bodies are still being subjected to a relentless onslaught on their very existence in the form of pollution and encroachment although the highest court issued a number of rules, either suo moto or in response to public interest litigation writ petitions, on the government and relevant agencies, asking them to take effective steps to end pollution of and encroachment on natural water bodies. Now, moderate rainfall is enough to halt the city life as many areas go under water. Encroachers have grabbed canals in the absence of monitoring by the authorities concerned over them and constructed shops, half-brick houses and other structures. Unauthorised construction of structures on grabbed canals and water bodies, as New Age reported on Friday, has become a hindrance to the drainage system of the capital.
Widespread encroachment on different rivers in the city, too, is continuing, reducing the flow of water in them and causing the build-up of silt which ultimately leads to a rising frequency of monsoon floods in the city and aggravation of water shortage in the dry season. One is aware that almost all the major rivers that skirt around Dhaka, feeding its groundwater reservoirs, are being gradually filled up by politically powerful quarters. The government agencies on certain occasions have embarked on demolition drives to save the rivers and canals from being choked with encroachment. But these efforts have often resulted in temporary reprieve but no permanent solution. The government fails to understand that sporadic demolition drives cannot ward off encroachment on riverbanks and water bodies; it will require sustained round-the-year action and surveillance. Some experts warned that unless drastic measures were undertaken, the water of some of the rivers and canals would be polluted beyond treatment. Yet, pollution of and encroachment on canals and water bodies continue with untreated human, industrial and clinical wastes being discharged into them.
The Dhaka deputy commissioner, along with other respondents, must comply with the court directive. The deputy commissioner also needs to take steps to reclaim canals, rivers and water bodies illegally grabbed by encroachers in the greater interest of the nation, rising above all kinds of fear and partisan interest. At this juncture, the government must lend full support to all the government agencies concerned so that all can fight the menace of encroaching on canals at full throttle.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial