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Thursday, June 11, 2009
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River dredging plan outlined

PM to head high-level body to implement the scheme

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday announced in parliament that her government is going to form a high-level committee to implement the mega plan for dredging the rivers of the country.

"I myself will head the committee. The finance, planning, agriculture and other ministers concerned will be its members. It will require huge amount of money to dredge the rivers. But we will do it," the PM said in reply to lawmakers' queries.

On taking financial assistance from the World Bank for tackling damage caused by global warming, she said her government would not take funds from it on its conditions.

"The World Bank will give us funds as per our terms and conditions since developed countries are responsible for the global warming," Hasina said, replying to a query from Workers Party lawmaker Rashed Khan Menon.

The premier expressed hope that Bangladesh will be able to receive as much money as required to face the aftermath of global warming.

She said her government has already allocated Tk 300 crore in the budget for the next fiscal year to initiate adaptation measures.

"A guideline titled 'Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan' has been formulated to face possible disasters induced by climate change. A cabinet committee is working to finalise the action plan. Another committee is finalising the process of formation of Climate Change Trust Fund with budgetary allocation," Hasina said in a scripted answer to a query of AL lawmaker Shahiduzzaman Sarker.

In response to a supplementary enquiry of Shahiduzzaman, she said her government would take necessary steps to save North Bengal from desertification.

On capital dredging of rivers, the prime minister said the government has already started discussion with the World Bank, the Netherlands and other donor agencies for assistance.

"Fortunately, the donors are now responding to our requirements. I have signed a file today to send a representative to the World Bank to discuss various programmes including dredging rivers," Hasina said in response to a query of AL lawmaker Waresat Hossain Belal.

She said after capital dredging, the rivers will be dredged every year for maintaining their navigability.

About her government's plan on haor areas, Hasina said the government is examining the feasibility of setting up dams on haors to generate power.

The PM also spoke about the government's plan to strengthen the social safety net, its measures to face the aftermath of cyclone Aila and mitigate sufferings of its victims.

Hasina said her government will initiate measures to improve lifestyle of the ultra poor people including rickshaw-pullers, Monga affected people and street children.

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It is most encouraging that the P.M. Hasina herself will chair the Committee to oversee the task of river dredging and seek to secure the potential of our riverside. our technical experts would no doubt point that while capital dredging is important as one time effort, the problem is due to neglect in maintenance dredging over a long time. However, a river's natural dredging takes place if the flow of water is maintained without hindrance to the rivers' natural flow. Otherwise, even maintenance dredging becomes prohibitively expensive and even ineffective. Rivers are kept navigable: by maintenance dredging over the navigable channel (not the entire width of the river) regularly, and, more importantly, through securing unhindered natural flow of water. The P.M. has rightfully mentioned about the Jamuna river, most important for timely supply of fertilizers to the North Bengal which suffers from Monga. IWT is more cost effective and hence the importance of Jamuna river's navigability. P.M. will surely seek India's cooperation for restoration of Jamuna rivers navigability which, in fact, will also facilitate India's use of the Bangladesh rivers for its transit transport at lower cost which, by implication, help the Indian seven sister states in the north east in their economic well being. Dredging is a costly business, the PM's suggestion is most valuable; however, experts will adequately brief her of cost and technical implications of seeking a solution to a problem created by ourselves through neglect,and India's withdrawal of water from Bangladesh rivers, violating international laws. P.M. would no doubt save the country from unnecessary borrowing to the extent alternative solutions could be found through India's cooperation.

: Dr. Abu Reza

I am an inhabitant of Bauphal Upazila in the District of Patuakhali. Where many river running over the land. In the Ershad regime, dishonest/unholy UP Chairmen and others made dam on the river without and feasibility study, due to their own interest. At present the land become unproductive due salinity in the land. On the other hand, fish production drastically reduced. If the water tide follows in the land, the land make more productive. Therefore, river of Bangladesh should be dredged. All unplanned dam on river should be cut of (open for proper water follows). I hope Prime Minister understand the water situation and order to dredging river and allow river for proper water follows. The farmer, fishermen and nation get more and useful help from the river. I am requesting you to please publish these small comments to your esteem daily news paper. Thanks

: Md Ileas Khan

Comments

  • Rokon Rokonuzzaman
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 09:05 AM GMT+06:00 (308 weeks ago)

    Poverty Reduction, National Development And A Recommendation

    Rokon Rokonuzzaman

    A great barrier of national development is poverty and a great barrier of poverty reduction is river erosion in Bangladesh. Still 42% people live bellow poverty level. Many acres of land go under water and left unutilized for a long time in the whole year including rainy season.

    More than one time in every year houses, various establishments and crops are vanished away by river erosion. People lost their lost their shelter (nest). The addresses are changed time and again. The pains and tense for changing of shelter make the people's behavior of Bangladesh restless.

    Bangladesh is a riverine country. Most of the people of the river-basin live/fight with poverty years after years. Various types of programs are adopted and implemented for this poor people. Test relief, Emergency disaster relief, VGF card etc. But, basically the result of these programs brings no elementary change for the people to reduce the poverty and to find out the root of poverty. Some projects are implemented by Govt. and some projects are implemented by NGOs. If we can utilize the water resources and the land of river bank (also char) properly; no doubt, the condition of poverty-victim people will be changed.

    GDP will be stable or have a favorable fluctuation. The tasks for river administration and proper utilization of water resources are:

    01. The river to be dredged

    02. River bank to be construct (effectively)

    03. Effective plantation to be ensured (fruit trees)

    04. The rivers to be converted into fishy river.

    01.Rivers to be dredged: Most of the large rivers spread over the vast area of firm land all over Bangladesh, in the rainy season. In the dry season its dry up. Even the condition becomes disfavor of navigation. Some rivers are quiet dried or waterless. It is seen only sandy land. The dredging should be in the particular middle area of river-bed, so that, the expected maximum water flow can be managed. The technical expert will be able to perform this estimation.

    Benefits: a) People will be able to realize the maximum demarcation of wideness of the rivers. The farmers can take decision of cultivation.

    b) The land will not be left unutilized and uncultivated.

    c) Sufficient land will come out to allocate among the landless people of the country.

    d) Regional migration will be decreased.

    e) Enough water can be reserved.

    02. River bank to be constructed: Only river dredging will not solve the problem. The bank of the river should be constructed with dredging, such a way that the rivers don't spread over the firm land aggressively. The cultivable land not to become river. Let the river be river. The land not to become river. It is possible when the river will be dredged as well as the river bank will be made. At the time of constructing bridge, connecting road is construed. If connecting band is constructed also like that, this task can be taken advance. Already we have some example: Rinver bank of Attrai river at Proshadpur-Nougaon, Dharola river at Kurigram, Both side of Jamuna bridge, Buriganga bridge and so on.

    Benefits: a) If the construction of the bank be permanent, it will protect from the erosion.

    b) Much water will be stored that can be used in the dry season for irrigation.

    c) It will be possible to cultivate fish to a high extent. Overall demand of protein will be covered.

    d) We will get much tourism area and the environment will be healthier.

    e) Industries can be built in the released fellow land.

    f) Commerce in water way will be increased. (Marin commerce)

    03. Effective plantation to be ensured: Plantation should be an integral part of this project and it should be effective. It is strongly suggested to plant fruit trees at the time of plantation to a maximum extent.

    Benefits: a) If maximum trees are fruit trees then it will give enough economic benefits. When the trees will start to give fruit, the people of the particular area will take it. It may be assumed that the Govt. or the authority will not able to collect the fruits. But, it is clear that the very people or passerby or the farmers will eat the fruits. Then the national demand of food will reduced to a degree.

    b) The trees will protect the erosion of river bank.

    c) The river bank will be a tourism area thoroughly.

    04. The river to be converted into fishy river: We see that most of the time there is no fish in the river. The fisher folk cannot live on fishing. The price of fish is also very high in the market. The fishery department of Govt. should establish many hatcheries. Some NGOs can be involved in this job. The fishery department of Govt. and some NGO will produce only fingerling (young of fish) and released in the river continuously. As both are working for the charity of people, not business. Sweet water fish should be emphasized here.

    Benefits: a) The rivers will become fishy

    b) The maximum national demand of protein will be covered.

    c) The Bangladeshis will get back the designation Bangali of fish and rice.

    d) If this proposal is implemented, Bangladesh may get the advantage of exporting fish.

    e) When the rivers will become fishy, and when a poor man will get 2/3 kgs of fish per day he will be well enough to execute his life with family.

    So, the benefits if we summarize are:

    i) Land and water resources will be utilized properly.

    ii) Day laborer/poor people/seasonal labor will have work that is employment opportunity will be created.

    iii) Not only labor class, but also educated people also will have job in this project.

    iv) Dependency on India for water will be reduced.

    v) Marin commerce will increase.

    vi) The whole river banks will be tourism and economic zone.

    vii) Fishermen including others will get fish.

    viii) Migration of rural area will be reduced.

    ix) The demand of food and protein will be covered.

    x) Monga (scarcity of job and food) will be removed significantly.

    xi) Flood will be minimized

    xii) There will be a positive impact on people's behavior.

    There are some obstacles identified to perform this task:

    i) If the rivers are dredged and bank are constructed, the river will change its motion way. But, it is to be remembered that we are not building Barrage like Farakka, Tipaia or like that.

    ii) Donor will not give fund for this type of project. But, it is a so called fear, I think.

    Now, who will do this job and how it will be done:

    At first the Govt. has to take decision to implement this gigantic task. Then to make a master plan for 10 to 15 years. There are 56,000.00 NGOs are registered in social welfare of Bangladesh Govt. These NGOs can be involved to this stream. It also may be partnership basis. Bangladesh Army can be involved to this job.

    What Govt. can do:

    Govt. can take decision, prepare plan and coordinate with the parties. Policy formulation is the task of Govt. Administrative and executive support to be come from Govt. The river research institute which is existing merely in name, to have a pioneer role for this initiative. The water resources ministry, Forest and Environment Ministry to be engaged in this initiative.

    Govt. will call the NGOs and tell to Do only one task for next 10 to 15 years. No need to do many tasks.

    Govt. will assign 30,000 NGOs for dredging the rivers

    10,000 NGOs for constructing river bank

    10,000 NGOs for plantation and

    6,000 NGOs for producing fingerling (young of fish) and leave in river.

    Govt. will give recognition and award for doing these tasks. Very often NGOs don't get proper recognition of their work from Govt. Above all Govt. and NGOs can inspire the general people to be involved in this journey.

    What NGOs can do:

    NGOs ( Not for Profit Organization) are engaged in charity for people somehow. And most of the NGOs are working based on donor fund. NGOs will negotiate with donors and make them understand that our development of next 10 years is river administration. Some people say that the donor will not provide fund to such a project. Is it applicable for all donors.

    But, in many cases the consultant of donor is Bangladeshi. Some donor will be positively auto suggested viewing and realizing the reality. Some donors are working for maintaining water resources and environment. The relationship between NGOs and donor is not so bad, that, NGOs will fail to motivate the donor about the good output and impact of the project. Govt. support may be required in this motivation work of donor. So, through a coordinated negotiation and consultation, the donors will be agreed to give fund for this program.

    What Army can do:

    From the history of Bangladesh, it is observed that, Bangladesh Army can do some complex and gigantic task. Voter list, in the country, and many tasks in UN mission are instances. So, Army can take the responsibility of monitoring, security, coordination and some logistic support. Expertise of Army can be engaged here.

    Army can take the overall lead for this task too.

    In fine, we can be highly ambitious being together, for another master piece of task. The nation will get something, the future generation will remember the present generation who will be involved here. The country will have a balanced development, visible and real development.

    -Md. Rokonuzzaman

    Development Worker and Writer

    Cell: 01711-488450

    E-mail: rokon@manusher.org

  • zakir Kibria
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 09:10 AM GMT+06:00 (308 weeks ago)

    River dredging, though required, is a short term solution.

  • Sumon
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 10:20 AM GMT+06:00 (308 weeks ago)

    Yes. It is a very good plan to dredge the rivers. But also our Prime Minister should take the issue of FARAKKAH and Tipai Mukh directly to the Indian Prime minister and solve the problem. Don't let just a parliamentary committee to handle it. I earnestly request our Prime Minister...Please....get involve personally and solve the issue.

  • Sohel Ahmed
    Thursday, June 11, 2009 09:30 AM GMT+06:00 (308 weeks ago)

    Excellent news, hopefully major as well as minor rivers along with the canals will be dredged and I just hope they will not put the mud back on the river as they are doing at Jamuna. If that is the plan then no need to waste the money, but if they dredge and carry the mud/sand to another place it will make sense.

    Well I hope the prime minister is serious about it and will thoroughly monitor the entire operation with success.


 

 


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