A research report conducted by Paribesh Bachao Andolon (PABA), a civil society platform of environment activists, shows that since 1960 to 2008, about 33 per cent wetlands and 52.58 per cent agricultural low lands vanished due to indiscriminate construction of industries, residences and other establishments in the capital city.
On the other hand, greedy grabbers continued encroachment upon government lands including water bodies and rivers across the country due to lack of implementation of existing laws and indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned, alleged activists and environmentalists on Monday. Moreover, absence of a development plan for haors and rivers is also creating problems for the local people and their livelihood.
Environmentalists suggest before taking up any development work, the government must be aware about the eco-system of any particular river or wet lands. They expressed the views that formation of a digital database inventory system of rivers could help conduct a pre-research before doing any development work.
Sayed Arif Azad, Director General of the Fisheries Department, said that this system would include present and past status of any specific river or water bodies.
"Before taking up any development projects in connection with any river or any water bodies, we must have some specific about their eco-system and bio-diversity so that in the long run it does not create any problems. And this inventory system could be helpful," he said.
However, environmentalists noted that the present situation of the river and other haor-baor is worsening because of lack of cooperation between respective ministries.
They said some local people who are politically influenced, are grabbing lands and they are given lease of wetlands (haor, baor) which is forcing the real local fishermen to change their profession into rickshaw- pulling and garment making.
They blamed the government officials and River Protection Committee for not taking necessary measures and having any monitoring cell.
Abu Naser Khan, Chairman of Paribesh Bachao Andolon (PABA), said that if government implemented the River Protection Act, 2009, we could save all the main rivers of Dhaka city," he said.
"The decision of the River Taskforce is not being implemented. A River Commission has been formed without giving it any executive power. These all are creating problems to save the rivers across the country," he observed.
Referring to Bangladesh Water Development Board, he said that since last six decades it had constructed embankments across the rivers, which literary destroyed the normal and natural flow of the rivers.
"Most of the government's development is against the river's eco- systems. He referred to projects done by LGED. They have constructed embankments, bridges, culverts, roads in the middle of rivers killed many rivers across the country," he said.
Through the 15th amendment to the Bangladesh Constitution, a new provision, article 18 (A), was included, which states that it is the government duty to protect country's environment for the people and future generation.