Titas River in peril
It is a matter of grave concern, Titas River flowing over Brahmanbaria has turned into a narrow canal due to ongoing Illegal River grabbing. People living on Titas river's banks have indiscriminately occupied river banks and its adjacent land by building structures in different spots. Sediment and sand have filled up the river over a stretch of 103km out of 110km that flows in Brahmanbaria.
A staggering 623 grabbers have been reported to have put the Titas in peril, and the list mentioning their names have been sent to the ministry concerned. Taking the list with sincerity and due diligence we expect ministry coupled with law enforcement agencies to launch an immediate eviction drive. All illegal establishments must be wiped out from Titas's river banks while encroached lands must be recovered the soonest.
However, rivers and other water bodies are the repositories of fishes that meet the nutritional demand of the people of the country. But the fishes of many rivers including Titas are becoming extinct fast due to grabbing of wetlands by a section of local influential people with political clout protecting their misdeeds. The grim reality is that at least 117 rivers of Bangladesh have disappeared because of disruptions in their water flows in the upstream and unplanned construction of culverts, bridges and embankments in the country. Many rivers are gasping for their existence. More than any time before, now is the time to take immediate action to rescue and protect our rivers and water bodies.
So far just a few measures have been taken to protect the rivers in the country. Unplanned and uncoordinated urbanisation has taken its toll on the rivers. This is a blow to the country's economy. River pollution is another menace that is wreaking havoc. Industrial waste, household garbage and the garbage of ships are being dumped directly into rivers, which are accelerating their deaths.
Many rivers have already dried up due to the people's irresponsibility and the government's negligence towards the maintenance of the rivers. The authorities should ensure that the rivers are fully dredged, illegal encroachments on them ended and the laws strictly enforced to prevent abuse of our waterways.
According to Brahmanbaria Water Development Board authorities, dredging was going on to free the course of the river. But more needs to be done to give back the river its original shape. Expecting socio-economic development of the Titas locality, dredging works must be executed so to make the river navigable for ships and water vessels. We are drawing immediate attention of the government to free Titas of its manmade woes, or else Titas will soon become history merely remaining in our movies and literature.