BAPA’s call must not fall on deaf ears
No development can be sustainable at the cost of environment. In this context, the recent demand by environment activists in Rajshahi for protection of the river Padma from pollution and illegal occupation carries due significance.
According to a report, recently published in a national daily, the local unit of BAPA, an environmentalists' platform formed a human chain at Shaheb Bazar Zero Point of Rajshahi city on Wednesday to press home their demand for protecting the river from pollution and illegal occupation. In full agreement with environment activists, we believe that there is no alternative to restore the river to its former self and their stress on protecting it also reflects their concern for other rivers of the country.
The speakers at the event organised by BAPA linked illegal damming and the construction of illegal structures over the last few years to the destruction of Padma. They also held responsible utter failure of the authorities concerned to address the issue of unlawful encroachment on our rivers; whether it is through sand extraction from rivers or haphazard infrastructure.
It is a matter of great concern that the influential people are destroying the country's rivers, and canals often proving that money speaks louder than law. They are well aware that this is not the private property of any individual or any group. This is public property. Even the government does not have the authority to lease these to anyone.
Unfortunately, the destructive effects of river erosion on those who live along its banks seem to only become worse; each year, hundreds of families lose their homes, property, and means of subsistence as a result of river erosion. Climate change, which is resulting in more frequent and severe floods, exacerbates this issue.
If we look at the history of the river Padma, it is clear that the contribution of this river is immeasurable in developing today's Silk city Rajshahi. As the largest river, in addition to giving momentum to national economic activities, Padma has significantly shaped country's cultural and literary development.
The creation and implementation of sustainable solutions that strike a balance between economic development and environmental conservation will undoubtedly require a concerted effort on the part of policymakers, scientists, and the general public. Together, we can make sure that Bangladesh's rivers continue to be an important source of water, livelihoods, and biodiversity for several generations to come.
The government must pay attention to the threats to other rivers in our country, including the river Padma, and identify the necessary safeguards to ensure that they can provide sustainable and safe water supply.
Finally, protecting the environment not lies on environmentalists alone. Had a few of the river grabbers violating environmental rules been brought to book, others would become alert lest they would face the same fate.