All rivers are living entities: HC

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Staff Reporter:

The High Court has observed that Bangladesh’s existence depends on the protection of rivers.

“The country will survive, beloved Bangladesh will survive if the rivers are protected,” it said.

The HC bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice M Ashraful Kamal came up with the observations in the full verdict declaring the Turag River as a legal/juristic person or a living being to save the river from illegal encroachment.

In the full verdict, the court said all the rivers flowing in and through Bangladesh will get the same status.

It declared the National River Conservation Commission as the legal guardian of the rivers.

At the same time, it asked for taking all kinds of steps to turn the commission into an independent and effective organisation.

In a historic verdict, the High Court on January 30 declared the Turag River as a legal/juristic person or a living being to save the river from illegal encroachment.

In its partial judgment, the HC bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice M Ashraful Kamal said Bangladesh, i.e. the humankind would fall in danger if rivers cannot be protected from encroachment and navigability problem.

A World Bank study said four major rivers near Dhaka — Buriganga, Shitalakhya, Turag and Balu — receive 1.5 million cubic metres of wastewater every day from 7,000 industrial units in surrounding areas and another 0.5 million cubic metres from other sources.

The Environment and Forest Ministry enacted a law in 1995 making it mandatory for all industrial units to use effluent treatment plants (ETPs) to save river waters from pollution, but owners often flout the rule.

South Asia is surrounded by hundreds of rivers which are most inter-border ones and common natural assent for the people from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Myanmar and deeply connected to their lives.

Following a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, the judicial probe committee had submitted a report with a list of names of illegal grabbers and structures on the banks of the Turag River. Later, the persons and the establishments were made a party in the case.

In the initial judgment, the court had said rivers are one of the media of humankind’s survival. “Governments of different countries are trying to protect rivers through enacting laws. If there’d been no directive in the form of verdict, there might have been high rises over the Buriganga River or a housing estate of an illegal grabber over the Turag River.”unb

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