Stop irregularities in Mongla-Ghashiakhali dredging

Five civic and environmental rights organizations on Saturday urged the government top take effective steps to stop irregularities, corruption and public fund misuse in Mongla-Ghashiakhali alternative waterway dredging for imposing a ban on commercial vessel plying through the Sundarbans.

Leaders of the five bodies made the demand in a joint statement.

They also demanded to review the Bangladesh Water Development Board’s project worth over seven hundred core taka to implement two Tidal River Management (TRM) and re-excavation of so called 83 canals.

They also questioned about the success and logic of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority’s long time excavation and dredging to keep sufficient navigability of this important channel round the year.

Opposing the implementation of TRM, the statement said that the water flow will be normal in the channel if the illegal dams on over 50 government canals, over one thousand environmentally harmful shrimp enclosures were evicted and canals were re-excavated properly,.

The organizations claimed that if these demands were fulfilled, high tide and ebb tide would flow faster and would decrease siltation in Mongla-Ghashikhali channel, and, as a result, the channel’s water flow would be fast as it was earlier.

If so, the statement said, over one hundred families of Rampal would not leave their ancestral homes and around 1,500 acres of agricultural land will not be destroyed for implementation of TRM.

Mentioning that the BWDB project not practical, , the civic group leaders alleged that the Tk 700-crore project had a hint of major irregularities and corruption.

They alleged that though the project mentioned 83 canals in the project area, the actual number would be much less.

The project mentions many names of a same canals to show a higher number of canals only to hike the project cost, they alleged.

The statement mentioned that the BIWTA showed about Tk 400 crore in expenditure in last four years for excavation and remove silt of Mongla-Ghashiakhali channel.

But, the statement alleged, though a ship having highest 13 feet draft can ply during the high hide on the route, a ship having more than 10 feet draft can’t ply during ebb tide while Tk 250 core had already been spent for capital dredging.

For past one and a half years, the statement said, maintenance dredging had been going on, it said, alleging that the process had been allowing public fund misused and plundering.

Leaders of the organizations urged the government to evict all the illegal dams of all canals and shrimp and to excavate the canals following proper plan on emmergency basis.

The signatories of the statement include Green Club of Bangladesh (GCB) president Nurur Rahman Selim, National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways general secretary Ashis Kumar Dey, Citizens Rights Movement secretary-general Tusar Rehman, Sekender Hayat of Council to passengers Rights and Jassy Sikder of Oath to Protect River.

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