The High Court (HC) stated on January 31 that the merry-go-round over river grabbing and eviction must stop now. The court said that the authorities must end the practice of setting up “dummy” commissions like the National River Protection Commission (NRPC) without empowering it to take effective steps against river grabbers. We agree with the HC that the practice of rivers being filled up by criminals, who sometimes act in connivance with corrupt officials, can only be stopped if the NRPC is given the tools to act on its own to stop grabbers from violating the law.
This newspaper, over the years, has been highlighting the sorry plight of our rivers and it is good to know that the Court will be giving specific guidelines today so that in the future, no one would have to file a case for protecting rivers and evicting land grabbers. Environmentalists have cited that some 450 rivers nationwide need protection if we are to save the general populace from harm and pollution. That authorities for so many years have left a hole in the NRPC has tacitly allowed for many mighty rivers, like the Turag, to dwindle to a shadow of its former self in the face of relentless encroachment. We do not need to reiterate the vital role rivers play in sustaining human habitats and it is time to take a strong stand against these repeat offenders who take advantage of the commission that lacks teeth to confront these powerful syndicates.