Small rivers’ must be preserved for augmented flow: Mahmud

DHAKA : Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud yesterday described as crucial small rivers’ protection for augmented flows as experts joined here in an interaction for saving streams ensuring their normal flow in lean period for ecology and economy, reports BSS.
“Our small and big rivers are dying due intervention in upstream countries . . . This is the right time to raise voice domestically, regionally and internationally,” he told the interaction organized by a private TV channel at the Jatiya Press Club. He added: “Alongside protecting major rivers, steps have to be taken for preserving small rivers as many of them are facing serious survival threats.” Shipping minister Shahjahan Khan opened the discussion when Mahmud feared the entire northwestern region could be exposed to desertification unless the river flows were protected. He said steps were taken afresh in building such infrastructures. He said initiatives for building reservoirs were taken first by Bangabandhu’s post independence government “which were stalled after his 1975 assassination”. Mahmud’s comments came as experts stressed intensified campaign to preserve waters building reservoirs and by keeping flow in rivers through constant dredging at the discussion titled “Save River-Save Country-Save Humanity” organized by Asian TV and Premier News Syndicate. State Minister for Water Resources Mohammad Nazrul Islam, Senior Secretary of the water resource ministry Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan joined the discussion. Acting Chairman of BIWTA Bhola Nath Dey and former director general of Bangladesh Water Development Board Md Shahidur Rahman among others addressed the event, chaired by Asian TV’s chairman Harun-or-Rashid.
Mahmud stressed on building a consensus among neighbouring countries of India, China, Nepal and Bhutan for ensuring better management of trans-boundary rivers. The shipping minister, on the other hand, detailed the government steps to prevent encroachment.

pollution and protect navigability of rivers as experts identified these as major issues of concern in protecting the stream in riverine Bangladesh, criss-crossed by several hundred rivers.
Mahmud, however, said in line with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s commitment, the country’s ability for dredging should be increased further while he underlined the need for making the dredging department more organized and efficient for taking specific plans for big rivers, coastal areas and small rivers.
Khan said his ministry took various programmes to maintain navigability in rivers while “a lot of programmes are underway to check river pollution along with rivers re-excavation and river bank protection”.
“We are taking necessary measures to free the rivers from the land grabbers as a section of people are hampering normal flow of water by constructing infrastructure illegally,” he said.