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All illegal structures from rivers to be removed: Minister

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Staff Reporter
Water Resources Minister Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud on Sunday stressed that all kinds of illegal structures would have to be removed from the rivers following the CS and RS records with a view to protecting the country’s water resources.
“The government never sells the rivers… we must take steps to recover the rivers as per the CS and RS records,” he told a workshop at RAOWA Convention Hall in the city yesterday morning.
Referring to the rampant grabbing of water bodies, Barrister Mahmud said people often build many religious structures like mosque by grabbing rivers so that the authorities could not launch eviction drives to demolish the structures installed in rivers considering the people’s religious sentiment.
“According to our religion (Islam), if you offer prayer in a mosque built on illegally occupied land, your prayer will not be acceptable to Allah,” he said.
Bangladesh Water Resources and Planning Organization (WARPO) and the Institute of Water Modeling (IWM) jointly organized the inception workshop of the project ‘Assessment of the State of Water Resources’.
Speaking as the chief guest, the Water Resources Minister said most of the rivers in the country have already lost their regular water flow due to encroachment by the greedy people. “We’ve destroyed our rivers. And a nation cannot survive in such a state.”
He said people should be very careful of the rivers and water bodies as they must pay high price due to any damage to rivers and environment.
Barrister Mahmud said water is available in the country, but it does not get water in right time as the water comes from upstream countries. “About 1,200 billion cubic meter (BCM) of water flows through our rivers a year. And the rivers carry 1.5 billion tonnes of silt every year disrupting the navigability of those rivers.”
About the necessity of the Ganges Barrage, he said one-third of the country’s people living in the Southern region will benefit with the construction of the barrage.
“The government has given priority to build the Ganges Barrage. If the barrage is constructed, salinity will be reduced in coastal region, many rivers will get life back and food production will increase.”
The Water Resources Minister underscored conducting assessment on surface and ground waters to know how much water is available in the country and its proper utilization and to identify the vulnerabilities of the water sector.
Water Resources secretary Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan, IWM executive director Prof Dr Monowar Hossain and WARPO director general M Salim Bhuiyan were, among others, also spoke at the workshop.