Press conference on “Recent Eviction Drives of the Government: Current Status of Adi Buriganga and Sonai Rivers”.

A press conference on “Recent Eviction Drives of the Government: Current Status of Adi Buriganga and Sonai Rivers” was held on Friday, 14 June 2019 at 10.30 am in the Zahur Hossain Chowdhury Hall (2nd Floor), National Press Club, Topkhana Road, Dhaka jointly organized by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Waterkeepers Bangladesh.

BAPA General Secretary Dr. Mohd. Abdul Matin presided over the press conference while Sharif Jamil, Coordinator, Waterkeepers Bangladesh and Joint Secretary of BAPA presented the keynote speech at the press conference. Member of BAPA Executive Committee and Member of National River Conservation Commission Sharmeen Murshid and Mihir Bishwas, coordinator of Buriganga Banchao Andolon also spoke in the press conference.

Sharif Jamil said in his written speech that, recently to complete the walkway protect of BIWTA, government conducted a special drive to demolish structures from the area of Buriganga River and announced that the second channel of Buriganga river or the original Buriganga would be developed like “Hatirjheel’. We strongly protest against the unplanned eviction drive and any process of transformation of the river in to a lake or Jheel. Before conducting rescue operations of the river, it is necessary to formulate a comprehensive plan for the entire area, including demarcation of the river area, the types of occupied structures, the way in which it is recovered and rescued. According to the court verdict, the boundary of the river should be made through acceptable survey, listing of all the encroachments within it; some of the establishments can be relocated, some should be evicted with ensuring punishments and some can be rehabilitated and develop greenery to protect the river area.   On the other hand, due to the encroachment of Sonai river, floods and water logging occurred in Madhabpur and adjacent areas. In addition to the clear guidelines of Honorable Prime Minister, locals were seen trying to evacuate the weaker occupiers, but no initiative had been taken to remove Saham Future Complex, the biggest occupation that obstructed the flow of the Sonai river.

The press conference raises the following demands:

(A) Demands to protect the Adi Buriganga

  1. To demarcate the river area according to the high court verdict where the maps should be followed to determine the location of the river but to follow the flow of the river to determine river area.
  2. Identify the occupiers of the rivers, canals and flood plains properly.
  3. The Adi Buriganga has to be reclaimed as a river not as a canal or lake.
  4. Possible corruption of the related officials of the occupying period need be investigated and punished for failure to take appropriate measures.
  5. The efforts of recovering adi Buriganga river should be people oriented and transparent.

(B) Demands to protect Sonai river:

  1. Immediately remove all the structures obstructing the flow of Sonai river along with Sahem future complex.
  2. The last decision of the taskforce should be canceled. Actions need to be taken against the concerned by proper investigation.

(C) Demands for the protection of the country’s rivers:

  1. People oriented short-term, medium-term and long-term integrated schemes should be adopted to reclaim the river.
  2. The legal and institutional capacity of National River Commission need to be increased.
  3. The punishment of the persons and groups associated with the occupations must be ensured.
  4. To define the boundary of the river, the CS or RS based misinterpretation must be stopped.
  5. To train the concerned government officials and employees through training, incentive and by punishments (for negligence).
  6. Responsible people should be stopped and punished for corruption for making all the rivers into drains and canals in the name of dredging.