Researchers and ethnic minority rights activists on Monday demanded that the government should protect fountains and streams in hills to minimise recurring water crisis in summer in three hill districts.
The disappearing natural forest, lifting of stones for building infrastructure and expanding tourism are causing water sources to run dry and water channels to disappear in Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban, they said.
‘Laws protecting environment and water bodies in Bangladesh do not consider streams as water bodies,’ said ecology and biodiversity conservation researcher Pavel Partha.
The water crisis has persisted among hill dwellers for quite some time now, affecting their lives and livelihood, as unplanned development has continued to cause destruction to ecosystem, he said at a webinar organised by ipnews.com.bd.
He said that the water crisis was not limited to big hills of Chattogram but extended to Sylhet and places such as Myemnsingh and Sherpur inhabited by many ethnic minorities.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan emphasised making a list of streams and fountains in areas hit by recurring water crisis in order to find out reasons behind them going dry.
‘Water crisis is particularly problematic for women responsible for the collection of water needed for their families,’ said Rizwana.
She said that brick kilns could not exist legally in the hills of Chattogram and stone collection could occur in areas if it was proved harmless to environment through environmental impact assessment.
Human rights activist Susmita Chakma said that water crisis got so severe in some areas requiring women to line up early in the morning to collect a bucket of water.
‘On the way to or from the source of water women are falling victim to sexual harassment,’ said Susmita.
Dhaka University teacher Anurag Chakma, Jabarang Kalyan Samity’s executive director Mathura Bikash Tripura and Humanitarian Foundation’s executive director Mong Mong Sing Marma took part in the webinar, among others.
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