Rivers loss navigability due to negligence: Khalid

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Dhaka, Nov 07: State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury on Saturday said that the country was not ruled properly after Bangabnadhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and before Sheikh Hasina’s tenure. The rulers of the tenures were busy in killing, looting and creating anarchy in the country. There was no one to look into the rivers and waterways. As a result, the country’s rivers have lost their flow and navigability.

The government of Sheikh Hasina has taken several steps to rescue the rivers and waterways from illegal grabbers and ensuring navigability, so that people can enjoy smooth and less expensive waterways. The government is working to recover the waterway to flourish river tourism, he said while addressing a seminar organized at Jatiya Press Club.

Shipping and Communication Reporters’ Forum (SCRF) organised the seminar titled as ‘course of actions needed to flourish tourism and protect river and waterways’.

SCRF president Ashish Kumar Dey chaired the event while Bangaldesh Inland Water Transport Authority Chairman Golam Sadeq, former Director General of River Research Institute (RRI) Lutfor Rahman, river researcher Aminur Rasul Babul, SCRF vice president Amaresh Roy, member Rafiqul Islam Sabuj and BIWTA Employees Union president Abul Hossain also spoke.

Moderated by its general secretary Mohosinul Karim, former SCRF president Anisur Rahman Khan presented keynote paper in the programme.

Khalid Mahmud said that the country may fall in risk unless the rivers can be managed properly. Considering the issue, the ruling AL had incorporated the issue of river dredging in its election pledges. The government has already taken initiatives to dredge around 10,000km waterways. To conduct the huge dredging work round the year, it has decided to buy necessary dredgers.

Once the rivers are dredged properly, the rivers will be navigable. It would help to flourish river tourism for recreation and attract local and foreign tourists, he added.

BIWTA Chairman Golam Sadeq emphasized on ensuring coordination between the authorities relevant with managing waterways and tourism to take its benefits to the doorsteps of people.

Former RRI DG Lutfor Rahman recommended the government to form a taskforce comprising the representatives of local administration, public representatives and social activists to save the rivers and recovering waterways.

Aminur Rasul Babul urged the government to promulgate separate law to protect the rivers from illegal grabbers and conduct census on rivers soon.