Reversing the damage

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This is the kind of action that we have been asking for

For a nation whose very geographical make-up is defined by rivers, we are certainly doing a very poor job of protecting them.

A big reason behind the absolutely dire state of our rivers is the unchecked construction surrounding most of our water bodies. We have had laws in place which would, on paper, keep such construction in check. Despite legislation and even calls from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself to save our rivers, these water bodies have continued to be abused, encroached upon, and polluted.

Far from saving them, we are instead subjecting our rivers to a slow and painful death. But there is hope.

A recent countrywide government drive demolished at least 5,574 illegal riverbank structures, recovering about 593 acres of occupied land in the first phase.

This is the kind of action that we have been asking for.

The Ministry of Water Resources is supervising the drive under the first phase of the re-excavation project of small rivers, canals, and water bodies in 64 districts of the country. But what is especially laudatory about the operation is its comprehensiveness.

A countrywide drive being carried out in phases to bring our rivers back to life is unprecedented, and the effort alone is worthy of applause.

Time and again, grabbers, and encroachers have gotten a free pass, with no positive long-term changes anywhere to be seen. We hope this drive sends a message to any would-be encroachers, and indeed those looking to build illegal construction projects around our rivers.

Our rivers are the lifeblood of our nation, and it is high time we did something to reverse the damage.