Dhaka, Bangladesh
Louhajang river on the death throes

Louhajang river on the death throes

Indiscriminate grabbing continues

Our Correspondent TANGAIL, Dec 6: The Louhajang river, a lifeline for Tangail townspeople, is dying fast due to non-stop dumping of wastes into the river and mindless grabbing of its shorelines. The indiscriminate grabbing is also causing drainage problem and waterlogging in many areas of the town, environmentalists said. Release of sewage and toxic chemical wastes through drains and pipes from homesteads and industrial units are also polluting its water, they said. The 76-kilometre-long river, originating from Dhaleswari river in Baisnabbari of Tangail Sadar upazila, flows through the district town and falls into the Bangshai river in Jamurki under Mirzapur upazila of the district. Responding to the repeated demands of the local people and environmentalists, the district administration last year took an initiative to free one and a half kilometres area of the river stretching from Beradoma to Hazraghat under Sadar municipality area. However, allegations of irregularities and corruption over identifying the actual grabbers were raised from different quarters of the society, they said, adding the drive was later stopped on the plea of different problems, including shortage of funds. Once profusely flowing, the river has turned into a narrow canal in recent times and heading towards a virtual death due to the mindless encroachment by local influential people, local green activist Masum Ferdous said. Masum, who has been campaigning to save the river through his write-ups for over a decade, said the district administration launched the drive to free only one kilometre area from the grabbers, which is not enough really. Somnath Lahiri, senior research officer at Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (BELA), said during the drive some makeshift houses belonging to some poor families were removed, but concrete structures owned by the influential grabbers remained untouched. Besides, they don’t know why the authorities concerned decided to free only a little over one kilometre out of 76 kilometres of the river area, he said, adding that initially their demand is to free at least eight kilometres area under Sadar municipality. “As questions were raised over not demolishing the structures of influential people out of the drive, authorities decided to resume the drive after a fresh demarcation of the river,” said advocate Ataur Rahman Azad, general secretary of Manobadhikar Bastobayon Sangstha Tangail unit. Tangail Deputy Commissioner Khan Mohammad Nurul Amin said as far he knows the local government ministry is about to take a Tk 330 crore beautification project along the river bank while water resources ministry is taking another project to dredge the river. “No illegal structures will remain on the river banks as soon the two projects get going,” he said. A number of local environmentalists said the authorities concerned should recover the grabbed lands first before allocating funds for its beautification, dredging or other purposes.

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