Rights and environmental activists at a discussion in Dhaka on Sunday described the pervasive corruption and irregularities at the state-owned Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) as the main obstacle to the protection of rivers and development of the shipping management.
They said although the government allocated a huge amount of money to the shipping sector in the last couple of fiscal years in order to dredge rivers and develop the sector, the BIWTA spent only Tk 50 crore in dredging the Mongla-Ghashikhali channel in last three fiscals.
After closing the movement of water vessels through the Mongla-Ghashikhali channel, the speakers said, the BIWTA allowed the plying of water vessels through the Shela River to destroy the Sundarbans, a site of Ramsar Convention.
National Committee to Protect River, Road and Railways (NCPSRR) organized the discussion at Mukti Bhaban in the capital.
Chaired by NCPSRR convener Ashish Kumar Dey, the discussion was addressed, among others, by former director general of Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO) Engineer Inamul Haque, secretary general of Citizens’ Rights Movement Tushar Rehman, joint secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan (Bapa) Mihir Biswas and Green Belt Trust director general Jasim Katabi.
Urging the government to remove BIWTA chairman Samsuddoha Khondaker from his post, the speakers said he has leased out vast stretches of rivers and water bodies to individuals misusing his power and defying the court orders.
Welcoming the move of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) to probe his graft, they said although the ACC earlier asked Samsuddoha to submit his wealth statement to the Commission, he did not comply with the order.
Corruption grabs BIWTA: Speakers