Bangladesh’s Rivers: Legal Protections Amidst Growing Challenges

Bangladesh, renowned for its extensive network of rivers and the largest delta, suffers from a dearth of accurate information regarding its rivers, including those that have been lost throughout time. This country, which heavily depends on rivers for essential resources such as sustenance and transportation, is confronted with substantial obstacles caused by pollution and the intrusion of powerful individuals.

The problem of river contamination continues to be a pressing concern. Although societies heavily depend on rivers, it is widespread practice to use them as disposal sites. World Rivers Day, observed on the fourth Sunday of September, brings attention to the current state of rivers worldwide and their significance in the upcoming water crisis. This year, the focus is on advocating for the rights of rivers.

Bangladesh possesses a set of very advanced river conservation regulations. Since the enactment of the National River Protection Commission Law in 2013, multiple legislations have been implemented with the purpose of ensuring the protection of rivers. In a significant ruling in 2019, the High Court granted legal standing to rivers, acknowledging them as “living entities.” This ruling granted the National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) the capacity to serve as the legal custodian of these natural bodies, with the ability to take legal action against anyone who trespass upon them.

After the ruling, city corporations in Dhaka and Chittagong launched initiatives to protect rivers by removing hundreds of unlawful buildings. The NRCC’s 2018 Annual Report documented a total of 49,558 individuals engaging in illegal grabbing activities, while their identities were not revealed. The NRCC has also endeavoured to carry out a comprehensive nationwide river census in order to ascertain the precise quantity of rivers. Sparrso’s satellite mapping study acquired data on 724 rivers, out of which 194 were found to be free from pollution. The rivers Padma, Meghna, Bangshi, Buriganga, Turag, Balu, Dhaleshwari, and Ichhamoti were the most polluted.

Green Time Editorial Body