‘River Basin Commission’ on the cards for cross border river management

Staff Correspondent | Update:

Two overcrowded launches make their way through the Buriganga river with homebound people leaving the capital Dhaka on Friday. Photo: Focus BanglaIn his budget speech for fiscal 2019-20, finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal announced a plan for a ‘River Basin Organisation' or 'River Basin Commission’ for ‘water resource management of cross-border rivers.’

In his budget speech on Thursday, Kamal said, “In view of the Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development signed between Bangladesh and India in 2011 for water resource management and development of cross-border rivers through sub-regional cooperation, we have undertaken a plan to form an organisation based on Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river basins, such as the River Basin Organisation or the River Basin Commission.”

Kamal also said the economically and ecologically critical Halda river will be declared an Ecologically Critical Area (ECA) in the next fiscal year.

“Steps will be taken in the coming days for the protection of Halda river including declaration of the river as an Ecologically Critical Area (ECA), and introduction of eco-tourism in various protected areas,” the minister said.

He said, “Besides, there is another plan to reserve 62 per cent of the 9,125 acres of area in the flood-flow zones of the Turag river as reservoirs, and to build compact townships in the remaining areas.”

Turag River. Photo: CollectedA report earlier in April said each year 2,500 acres of wetlands under the jurisdiction of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) are disappearing from Dhaka Metropolitan Development Project (DMDP) area. As many as 165 acres of water bodies, 215 acres of water retention areas and 2,120 acres of flood flow zones have been gobbled up.

The budget speech also unveiled mega plans for rescuing rivers across the country under the government’s newly adopted ‘Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100’.

“Implementation of this mega plan will require a huge investment of 2.5 percent of total GDP of which 2.0 per cent would have be met from the public sector and the remaining 0.5 percent from the private sector. Also, 35 percent of the total investment will be spent on flood control, preventing river erosion, river excavation, dredging, river training and navigation. In the first phase, a total of 80 projects have been proposed under the delta plan, whose implementation will begin in phases.”

In his speech, the finance minister said ‘dredging activities are in progress to restore navigability of 10,000 km river ways.’

“We have undertaken various plans to increase navigability of rivers, dredging 510 km of rivers by 2022 to prevent river erosion and ensure supply of water during the lean season.”

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