National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) Chairman Manjur A Chowdhury has suggested jail sentences for the managing director of Wasa and the Dhaka north mayor over their failure to control river pollution around the city.
Addressing a discussion at the CIRDAP Auditorium on Sunday, the NRCC chair urged the authorities concerned to take disciplinary action against Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) MD Taksim A Khan and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam.
"We will take the Wasa MD and Dhaka North mayor before a mobile court and recommend six months' jail and a fine of Tk4 lakh for them," he said.
Highlighting Wasa's failure to ensure proper sewage management and the DNCC still not putting nets over entrances to the city canals to prevent garbage from being dumped into rivers, Manjur said the negligence should be punished.
He, however, thanked the mayor of Dhaka South City Corporation for taking the initiative to build a sewage treatment plant to prevent polluted water of the canals from entering rivers.
Speaking to The Business Standard, he said, "We have taken the initiative to clean the rivers before Bangabandhu's birth anniversary next year. According to that decision, I have informed various organisations, including the two city corporations and Wasa, about it. I have urged Wasa and DNCC many times, but they aren't paying attention.
"The DNCC sends a junior officer to our meetings. He knows nothing about the matter. Waste is going into the canals and nothing is being done. We have asked that treatment plants are installed at the mouth of the cana. But they don't care. The DSCC mayor is, however, proceeding with our recommendation."
He further said they would take a magistrate and take action against the DNCC mayor, adding that a few days ago the commission had ensured six-months jail for the Patuakhali mayor.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury on Sunday's event alleged that a vested quarter was trying to destabilise the country targeting rivers and the environment.
He said the activists should speak out if they have anything to say during the planning stages of any development projects.
Khalid said grabbers used different techniques for their misdeeds. "Religious institutions are being used by some others to grab rivers."
Mentioning that the shipping ministry has taken necessary measures to protect rivers and streams around Dhaka, Khalid said over 90% of illegal encroachments on water bodies around the city have been removed.
UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis said rivers were the lifeline of economic development of any country.
She reiterated the promise to support Bangladesh to protect its rivers and environment.
River and climate change expert Emeritus Professor Ainun Nishat said Bangladesh might reclaim huge land in coastal districts through environmental management of rivers.
He also said waterways might be a cost effective transport medium in the country.