Govt to create more Hatirjheel like recreational spots

Our present 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 recover 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. Project director Nurul Alam said the work on the Tk848.50 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 Tk2,430 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.

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.”