THE High Court Division gave a directive for the deputy commissioner of Dhaka to prevent all sorts of encroachment on the canals and water retention bodies by influential land grabbers in the district, to maintain the natural flow of water as illegal encroachment of these and dumping of waste into them goes unabated. Urban planners at a seminar on Sunday, as New Age reported on Monday, urged the government to restore water retention bodies in Dhaka to solve the city’s water stagnation problem which is causing sufferings to the dwellers after rains. They rightly said that the mega-projects for resolving Dhaka’s water stagnation problem would not bring any long-term benefit until water retention bodies were restored and the drainage master plan was implemented. There were about 78 canals in the city; but none of them exists now as all of them were grabbed by influential quarters. Their absence has made stagnation of rain water a perennial problem for all here. Water retention bodies, including ponds and canals, are required to occupy at least 12 per cent of the land area, but Dhaka has less than two per cent for them. 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. Unauthorised construction of structures on grabbed canals and water bodies 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 on them and causing 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 upon demolition drives to save the rivers and canals from being choked with encroachments. But these efforts have often resulted in temporary reprieve for them but no permanent solution. The government fails to understand that episodic demolition drives cannot ward off encroachment on riverbanks and water bodies; it will require sustained round-the-year actions 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 and encroachment of canals and water bodies continues 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 retention bodies illegally grabbed by encroachers in the greater interest of the nation, rising above all kinds of cupidity and meanness. At this juncture, the government must lend full support to all government agencies so that all can fight the menace of encroaching on water retention bodies at full throttle.
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