Save the Rivers Movement, Bangladesh (STRMB) recently urged the government to publish a specific list of river polluters and grabbers to bring them under justice as a crucial step to protect the country's rivers.
During a discussion – held at the National Press Club on the eve of World Rivers Day on Saturday – regarding effective steps to take to protect the country's rivers, the president of the STRMB Anwar Sadat criticised the biased decisions taken while determining the boundaries of the country's rivers.
Sadat further urged the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) to work independently on the matter of rivers.
In response, the chairman of the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) ASM Ali Kabir, who was present during the event as the chief guest, said the commission has already made a list of illegal occupants but is yet to make a list of the polluters.
He noted that the main problems for the country's rivers are misappropriation and illegal occupancy.
"Some of the illegal occupants are powerful, but none of them are more powerful than the government. We will evict every illegal occupant," Kabir added.
He further noted that, so far in the country about 18,000 occupants have been evicted and that the NRCC has already made a list of more than 60,000 illegal occupants.
Other speakers from Save the Rivers Movement, Bangladesh (STRMB) also spoke at the event. They said the condition of the rivers are not only bad in terms of pollution but also in terms of management.
They said no matter how hard the green groups are trying, they are failing to save the rivers from the greedy grip of local political leaders. They highlighted the importance of shifting the attention to saving Dhaka's rivers – namely Buriganga and Dhaleshwari – first.
In response to the demands of the speakers, Kamrunnahar, a full-time member of the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC), said rivers and canals cannot and must not be occupied for any sort of "development project."
She said the commission has already notified the Ministry of Education to include river protection in the curriculum to make sure the future generation is more conscious about the issue.