We are surprised at the indifference of a private company to the government orders as it is building two slipways in the Meghna river in Munshiganj’s Gazaria upazila, ignoring the directions of the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) and the BIWTA. Reportedly, the company has neither the licence to use the river foreshore nor the clearance from the shipping and environment departments to erect such structures on river land.
This particular case is representative of the general state of affairs prevailing in this matter—of grabbing rivers with impunity, with the river commission helpless to take any action. Added to this is either the reluctance or direct collusion of the relevant agencies with the perpetrators. These illegal activities have been going on under the nose of the administration, with no apparent reaction on its part.
Legal action needs to be taken against this company as well as others who are grabbing and polluting our rivers ignoring the laws. And to do so, the government needs to empower the river commission. Although the commission was formed to protect the rivers, it doesn’t have the legal or institutional capacities to perform its duty properly. It does not have the power to punish those who are not complying with the rules. All it can do is issue warnings and make recommendations. But only good intentions and issuing warnings will do little to save our rivers. As the High Court has declared the commission as the legal guardian of our rivers, the government must empower the institution so that it can do its job without any obstructions from any quarters.