Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during yesterday’s meeting with officials of the Ministry of Shipping at Bangladesh Secretariat, urged the shipping ministry and all its departments concerned to work sincerely for making the river routes safe and secure for passengers and goods.
“We have to improve the navigability of the rivers and ensure safe and secure river routes for transportation of people and goods,” she said adding that the river routes are very important for Bangladesh due to its geographical location.
Hasina also asked the officials to take immediate steps to check pollution of the rivers across the country so they don’t meet the fate of the Buriganga of Dhaka. No urban waste should be drained into the Karnaphuli, Surma or Kushiyara. Also oil spills from ships in the Karnaphuli should be checked regularly.
She thanked the shipping ministry for taking massive program for protection of the Buriganga River banks through construction of pillars and walkways. “More effective steps should be taken to stop illegal occupation of the river banks,” she said.
Pointing out the pollution of the Buriganga river, she said: “I was really saddened and about to cry during a recent journey. The river is dying spreading bad smell, which is a matter of grave concern for us as Dhaka was established on its bank.”
The Karnaphuli in Chittagong, Bhairab River in Khulna, Surma, Kushiyara and Monu in Sylhet and rivers in Barisal may also face the same fate in future.
“We don’t want to let other rivers die. We have already taken steps for dredging the other rivers surrounding Dhaka. But, I think more effective steps should be taken in this regard,” Hasina said.
The Prime Minister laid importance on strict execution of the National River Commission Act to protect the rivers. She said capital dredging of 36 rivers is going on as part of a master plan to get back the navigability of the 53 rivers. Other rivers would be excavated gradually, she said.
Hasina said about 1000 kilometers of river routes and 2,000 acres of land were reclaimed through capital dredging and this land would be used for development of industrial zones by local and foreign investors.