Recently, a High Court bench has asked the authorities concerned to create a country-wide list of river-grabbers and release the list to the press. The Court also said that these individuals will not be allowed to contest any elections or obtain loans from banks. The government should pay heed to the instruction.
As instructed in a previous ruling, the government did form a commission to conserve rivers, called NRCC, and enacted a relevant law in this regard. While the commission remains active, the river grabbing doesn't seem to have changed. This is understandable because the commission does not have any authority to take legal actions against river-grabbers.
Given the nature of our climate and ecology, there is no alternative to maintaining the proper navigability of rivers for the benefit of the country. Yet, too many rivers have been illegally occupied by grabbers, while many others have been polluted to an extent that they are unrecognisable.
It is high time the government took stern actions against grabbers and encroachers so that our rivers can be saved. Otherwise, we risk inviting an ecological and environmental disaster in the near future.
Zillur Rahaman, By e-mail