Reportedly, the government is contemplating a plan to save the four rivers that serve Dhaka. It comes on the heels of the recent High Court order and its very comprehensive guideline for saving our rivers. And it is about time, too. It has been nine years since the first directive of the HC in 2009 in this regard. It had taken four years after that to set a national commission to protect the rivers. But the efforts have been rather truncated and in driblets, and that too implemented in a rather slipshod manner; political influence in connivance with certain quarters in the administration has caused the honest intention of the government to flounder.
While we welcome the renewed impetus with regard to the restoration of the country's lifeline, we suggest that the authorities do a stocktaking of all similar projects of the recent past and ascertain the reasons for those not delivering. The government has spent crores for the purpose of protecting the rivers and cleansing them. But the state of our rivers has gotten worse instead of improving. In this regard, the corrective measures must include, among other things, making an example of those persons responsible for the failure of the projects to give proper returns.
We suggest that a national plan be developed and implemented in a coordinated manner for the sake of national interest. It would be advisable to remember that our rivers not only need to be restored, the plan should include ensuring that the restored character is not violated by men, and the impacts of natural phenomena on the river system are reduced to the minimum to prevent irreparable degradation. Otherwise, as in the past, public money will be thrown in the water, literally.