Published:  12:35 AM, 07 December 2018

The wetlands issue

It is disturbing to note that a rapid and uninterrupted decline of water bodies and swamps around the capital city over the years has created many urban hazards, like a dwindling environment and ecology, in rapid progression. The city had over 50 canals even in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

But almost half of them have ceased to exist by now. Twenty six canals which have some sort of existence now are also barely surviving, owing to unabated encroachments and mindless dumping of solid wastes. What is unfortunate is all these unlawful activities have taken place due to sheer negligence of the authorities.

Notwithstanding the fact that there is a law, titled 'Wet Land and Open Space Conservation Act', enacted in 2000 to preserve wetlands, water bodies and open spaces, the application of the law is few and far between.

The present deplorable state of the capital's sewerage system is a direct upshot of our negligence towards preserving the wetlands and water bodies in and around the city, which actually are the city's natural drainage network. This is a reason for which the city streets go under knee-deep water and the whole city comes to a standstill even after a moderate rainfall for a couple of hours.

Against this backdrop, that the river saving taskforce not long ago asked Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to free 13 canals from illegal occupants is welcome. WASA is in charge of maintaining 26 canals flowing through the city.

We hope the WASA authorities will sincerely abide by the directives to free the water bodies from illegal encroachment and maintain constant vigilance so that none can grab them for a second time. Proper application of the prevailing law against the illegal occupiers is also very important.

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