Dhaka, Oct 6 (UNB) – The government is creating recreational spots like the Hatirjheel one for the city dwellers by building aesthetic structures along the four rivers around the capital city.
Officials at Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) think this move will also help revive the four rivers, check encroachment, protect the reclaimed lands, beautify the river banks and improve the environment.
BIWTA is implementing the project titled “Installation of pillars, protection of banks, construction of walkways, jetty and other relevant infrastructures in the reclaimed land of Buriganga, Turag, Shitalakhya and Blu rivers (2nd phase)”.
Experts said the project should be implemented as per the guidelines of the High Court to save the four rivers through proper demarcation.
In 2009, the High Court clearly defined the three parts of rivers -- bed, foreshore and bank -- and asked the authorities concerned to determine the exact boundaries of the four rivers around and install pillars on their banks. It also asked the government to construct walkways and plant trees along the riverbanks.
Talking to UNB, project director Nurul Alam said the work on the Tk 848.50 core-project began early this year, and it will be completed by June 2022. “We’ve sent a proposal to the ministry for increasing the allocation for the project to Tk 2,430 crore for its proper implementation.”
He said the project has been designed in such a way so that recreational spots like the Hatirjheel one can be created along the four rivers creating a scope for the city dwellers to spend time on their own and have funs with friends and family members there.
Mentioning that around 152 acres of land have been recovered from the river encroachers in the recent drives, Alam said they have already started constructing 3803 RCC (Reinforced Cement Concrete) boundary pillars on the land in the first phase.
Under the project, he said, they will also construct a 52-km fresh-air walkway, 10,820 boundary pillars, 40 km of key wall, three eco parks, two tourists-friendly parks, o.3km RCC bridge, 100 RCC stairs, 105.12km railings, 11 RCC jetties, six pontoons, 38 spurs, 409 benches and other necessary infrastructures around the four rivers.
Besides, Alam said, river-protection green belts will be created on the banks of the rivers which will protect the environment.
Contacted, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said the project will help save the rivers as well as the environment. “It’ll ease the movement of commuter while people will get a few more recreational spots for hangout.”
He said people usually do not visit riverbanks due to pollution and unhealthy atmosphere. “The rivers (around Dhaka) will now get back the life with the implementation of the project while people will get the scope to spend some quality time.”
Prof Ainun Nishat, a climate and river expert, said there are recreational spots along the rivers in civilised countries like the UK, the USA and France. “So, I think it’s a good project.”
“I don’t know who designed the project. My advice is to implement the project taking suggestions from relevant experts and engineers. Border pillars should be installed at proper places following the High Court directives,” he said.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan (Bapa) MA Matin it is true the government has reclaimed some river lands from encroachers over the last one year, but most of the captured land is yet to be recovered. “The government should first reclaim all the encroached land of the four rivers and then implement the project.”
He said the current project is surely a good one, but it should be implemented in accordance with the High Court directives. “Or else, it’ll be a project against the rivers as some recovered lands will be protected through the project while the remaining one will be lost forever.”
Sheikh Rokon, a river researcher and secretary general of Riverine People, said, “We definitely welcome the project to revive the four rivers. But we earlier saw the authorities concerned wrongly demarcated the rivers and set up pillars in most places in riverbeds deviating from the High Court directives which only created a fresh scope for encroachers to capture those foreshores and banks. We don’t want to see the repetition of such a mistake.”
Besides, he said, the project must be implemented maintaining the river ecology. “The concrete structures should not be built in a way which will disturb the aquatic habitats.