Meeting with the volunteers of Pashur River Waterkeeper.

Pashur River Waterkeeper (PRW) organized a meeting for the volunteers of the organization at their own office premises located at BLS Road, Mongla on 18 December, 2017. Pashur River Waterkeeper Mohammad. Noor Alam presided over the meeting while 20 Volunteers of PRW participated in the meeting. In the meeting the volunteers presented their views on various issues regarding river encroachment and pollution and proposed various programs for saving aquatic and animal life of the Sundarbans.

At the beginning of the meeting volunteer Rakesh Sana said, “The High Court has asked to suspend the construction work of all types of industrial factories within 10 kilometer of the Sundarbans. However, the industry owners are continuing their works in Digraaj-Bidyarbahan and Mongla port areas. The people of Digraaj are getting very disturbed due to the dusts and wastes spreading from some factories.” He also said, “The dredging work is continuously going on in the channel of river Pashur and its adjoining connections. This resulted in riverbank erosion and cracks in the houses of local community, which was reported in many media houses.” In the meeting, Rakesh Sana expressed the opinion that programs should be carried out against anti-environmental activities and river pollution.

In the meeting, another volunteer Pratap Mandal said, “Despite the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee’s embargo on the construction of large factories in the Sunderbans and adjacent areas without the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA), the construction of such factories still underway. Construction work of hundreds of industries and factories, including Rampal coal-based power plants, is continuing. Apart from the ban on dredging in Pashur River by the UNESCO, the government has also completed the tender for 13 km dredging from the jetty of Mongla Port of Pashur River to the jetty of Rampal power plant and soon the work of the dredging will start. We have to continue our protest against these anti-environment activities and have to carry out various programs to create public awareness”.

In the meeting volunteer Kamola Sarkar said, “The movement of vessels in the Pashur River has increased. The raw materials for the factories situated on the banks of Pasur River are transported by the river through the Sundarbans. As a result, river erosion increased on the both banks of the river.” Kamol Sarkar also said that some parts of her house had already disappeared in the river. The people suffering from the river corrosion are now living in a dangerous state. There was no compensation given by the government, as well as no action was taken to prevent the erosion.

In the meeting, volunteer Abdur Rashid, General Secretary of Chandpai Union Fisherman Association said, “The fish is no longer available in the Pahsur River as before. Due to the increase in the movement of the ship and waste dumping to the river, Pashur is being polluted. In addition to the destruction of fish and other aquatic animals by capsized oil, fertilizer and coal vessels he also said that the dolphin movement in Pashur River had decreased in a significantly. Fishes are dolphin’s food and it is not possible to survive for the dolphins if the river does not extend the amount of fish in the river”.

Geeta Haldar, a woman’s leader and PRW volunteer said, “The attack on the river is actually a hit on women. Mostly the women use the river water for their domestic chores. Besides, a large number of women earn livelihood by collecting fish and crabs in the river. Everyone is very dependent on the river regardless of their daily activities and family affairs.”

Professor Ashit Sarkar said, “Construction of coal-based power plant in Rampal is in progress by violating UNESCO’s embargo. If the Rampal Power Plant is established, then the aquatic animals of Pasur River will become extinct. Fishes will become empty due to lack of the breeding ground of the fish. Different species of fish including dolphins will be lost. The way the industrialization is going on, very soon Pashur river will be big carrier of industrial wastes like the rivers around Dhaka.” He also criticized the construction of industrial factories within 10 kilometer of the Sundarbans.

While presiding over Mohammad Noor Alam, Pashur River Waterkeeper said, “In order to stop the pollution and erosion of the Pashur River, we have to stop the construction of unplanned industrialization by the banks of the river. When Prime Minister and all the ministers are in Dhaka, but the rivers around Dhaka are like drains to carry pollutants, we can never expect Pashur will be safe in near future. And if Pashur is dead, it will kill the people by the banks of the river and the precious protector of the nation, the Sundarbans” He emphasized on the continuous program in order to stop construction of all types of industrial-factories, including Rampal power plant. The meeting has approved a three months’ work plan.