The national river conservation commission in its latest annual report has identified indiscriminate withdrawal of waters from the trans-boundary rivers upstream by India as a cause for accelerating the rate of river grabbing and river water pollution in Bangladesh.
The report scheduled to be placed at the Jaitya Sangsad in the next session of parliament reads that indiscriminate withdrawal of waters of cross-border rivers by India is depleting water levels in Bangladesh alarmingly resulting in the increase of pollution level for enhancement of density of the biochemical and chemical pollutants in river waters.
The commission report identifies increase of salinity in river waters in Bangladesh as another adverse impact of the arbitrary withdrawal of river waters by India.
‘In addition, the Indians discharge untreated sewage into the transborder rivers and a study carried out by Bangladesh Water Development Board unearths that 1.4 crore tonnes of sludge and sediments come through the transborder rivers from different parts of India, including Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and West Bengal,’ the river commission chairman Muzibur Rahman Howlader told New Age on Saturday.
‘For withdrawal of water by the upper riparian country, rivers dry up during the lean period and the locals encroach on the land of the rivers for different development and agricultural activities,’ he said.
The indiscriminate withdrawal of river waters by India also seriously affected the ecosystems and environment of the river systems of the Padma, Meghna, Jamuna and their dependent rivers, he added.
In the report, he said, the commission recommended the government to negotiate with India so that the country did not open all sluice gates to divert waters to Bangladesh during the monsoon that created huge untimely floods in the vast low-lying areas in the county damaging crops.
‘We have also recommended that the government conducted morphological studies of the transborder rivers for identifying points and levels of withdrawal of waters by India and Myanmar,’ Muzibur said.
Bangladesh and India share at least 54 transborder rivers, including the Ganges and Teesta, while Bangladesh shares the Sangu, Matamuhuri and Naf with Myanmar.
Bangladesh has a water sharing treaty only for the River Ganges.
The annual report will be placed at the parliament through the prime minister Sheikh Hasina, Muzibur said.
‘I will seek her appointment soon after she returns to Dhaka from the US where she is attending the UN general assembly,’ he said.
Muzibur also said that the annual report will feature an elaborate picture of the grabbing and pollution of the rivers in the country that the commission collected from the deputy commissioners following a High Court Division’s order issued in February.
The report also suggests taking stern actions against the grabbers and polluters.
‘Since the High Court Division declared rivers as living entities, we recommended amendment to the existing laws prescribing the highest punishments for the grabbers and polluters considering those as criminal offense,’ he said.
The report also states that necessity of amending the National River Conservation Commission Act 2013 and organogram of the commission for empowering it as the conservator of the rivers of the country.
Deputy water resources minister AKM Enamul Haque Shamim said that the government was very much concerned about the interest of the country and had successful discussion with India for holding Joint River Commission meeting regularly.
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