Marking the International Day of Action for Rivers, activists of various environmental organisations on Monday floated paper boats and banana tree rafts on the Buriganga River as a mark of protest against continued encroachment and pollution of the country's rivers.
They demanded immediate protection of biodiversity of the rivers.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) organised the programme on the bank of the Buriganga at Bochila area in the capital. Leaders and activists of 30 environmental organisations participated in the programme.
Bapa General Secretary Sharif Jamil said if the river does not survive, the city will not survive; and if the city does not survive, the country will not survive. Blocking the flow of water of any river through encroachment, or extracting sand from any river is a criminal offence, punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. But, those who are supposed to enforce the law are not actively enforcing it.
Former chairman of National River Conservation Commission Mojibur Rahman Hawlader said, "Our movement is intensifying day by day. This International Day of Action for Rivers is very significant for Bangladesh, because today our rivers, including Buriganga and Turag, are being encroached all over the country. The rivers are dying, which is a very bad sign for us."
He said today the prominent industrialists of the country have occupied thousands of acres of river land. Once upon a time, there were 35,000 river ways in Bangladesh, but now only 2,500 are navigable.