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Saturday, August 1, 2015, Shraban 17, 1422 BS, Shawal 15, 1436 Hijr

Buriganga Restoration Project falls flat
Govt looking for foreign fund to launch a project, says Minister
Published :Saturday, 1 August, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 15
The Buriganga River Restoration Project, taken to revive the Buriganga and other rivers surrounding the capital city, has hit the dead-end for lack of adequate funds and strong political commitment.
According to official sources, the government took the five-year Buriganga River Restoration Project, encompassing New Dhaleswari-Pungli-Bangshi-Turag-Buriganga river system, with an outlay of Tk 944 crore in 2010 to revive the rivers through dredging a 162-kilometre river system. Although the project period has already elapsed, the government has so far allocated only about Tk 104 crore for its implementation by Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) under the Ministry of Water Resources.
As per the project proposal, the project was scheduled to receive Tk 47 lakh in the initial year 2009-10, but there had been no allocation for it during the period, said BWDB chief engineer (central zone) and project director Abul Kalam Azad.
He said an amount of Tk 5.7 crore was allocated in fiscal 2010-11 against the proposed allocation of Tk 20 crore, while about Tk 19 crore against the proposed Tk 290 crore in fiscal 2011-12, Tk 40 crore against Tk 465 crore in fiscal 2012-13 and again Tk 40 crore against 169 crore. And no allocation was given in the project in fiscal 2014-15.
The river restoration project was scheduled to dredge the 162-kilometre New Dhaleswari-Pungli-Bangshi-Turag-Buriganga river system to bring water from the Jamuna River, acquire 140 hectares of land, set up an off-take regulator, construct a fish-pass on the river and carry out regular dredging works.
But, no work has fully been done under the project yet. Although the BWBD started the river dredging work in 2012, it suspended the work after a year for lack of dredger, BWDB sources said.
Abul Kalam Azad identified the fund crisis, unplanned development of structures like bridge and illegal encroachment of river banks as the major barriers to the project implementation. Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud said that the Buriganga Restoration Project was taken to increase the river flow to revive the rivers surrounding capital Dhaka, but adequate allocation could not be made to continue the project works. "So, we're seeking foreign fund to launch a new project in this regard," he added.
Due to unchecked disposal of industrial and household wastes in the Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakkhya rivers, their ecosystems have been destroyed. No aquatic life or organ can survive in the rivers during the dry season for lack of dissolved oxygen (DO).
About 90,000 cubic metres of untreated industrial waste are dumped in the Buriganga every day while tanneries of Hazaribagh discharge about 21,000 cubic meters of wastes containing chromium, lead and sulfuric acid into the river, according to a report of Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba) released in 2014.    ?UNB

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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