WE notice with a great deal of concern that erosion of rivers has become a regular phenomenon in the country with all its devastating consequences. On a regular basis rivers are devouring huge chunks of cultivable land, forests and homesteads, thereby pushing a large number of people into poverty. At the same time, erosion of rivers is contributing to drastic changes in topography in the border areas much to our disadvantage.
One report from Sylhet describes how the rivers Surma and Kushiara have changed directions a number of times because of severe erosion, which caused over 3000 acres of Bangladesh land to get merged with Indian land. Reportedly, this erosion could have been avoided if the relevant Bangladeshi authorities had taken measures early on, like creating embankment along the two rivers for a length of nine kilometers. In this connection we fail to understand why the Border River Protection and Development Project could not get the approval of the government in the last three years. While we have been waiting for the approval and the required funds, the authorities on the other side of the border have been making their riverbanks well protected against such erosion.
It would be stating the obvious that we have shortage of land and therefore cannot lose even an inch of it. But, over the last 37 years, we have lost sizeable portions of land mostly as a result of river erosion. The common knowledge is that proper river management and effective preventive measures are key to saving both rivers, riverbanks and ultimately precious land and other properties. We are aware of pragmatic suggestions and recommendations generating from various high profile seminars and workshops held in the past on the subject. But how much of it has been put into use to protect our land remains a big question.
We strongly believe protecting our territorial features is one vital responsibility of the government. We therefore hope the present government will instruct the relevant authorities to be proactive to sanction everything necessary to construct embankments on our side of the rivers and also open dialogue with its Indian counterpart to settle the unresolved issues concerning the border rivers.