PM stresses nature-based solution to water management issues

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DHAKA, Mar 27, 2018 (BSS)-Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today asked experts and authorities concerned to ensure optimum use of available water to offset the lean period crisis as part of internal solution to the issue.

“There are no alternative to the nature-based solutions for facing the mounting challenges of water resources management,” she said inaugurating the ‘World Water Day-2018’ programme at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).

The premier added: “Nature-based solution of different water problems is the demand of the present time and it must be encouraged.”

She particularly stressed finding ways to maximize rain water harvesting for lean season alongside maintenance of navigability of rivers.

“The government is making strides to ensure an equitable water management of the all trans-boundary rivers with India as it was done in the case of the Padma River,” the premier said.

Sheikh Hasina said lack of availability of Tessta waters from the upstream India largely turned the Teesta Barrage dysfunctional adding Bangladesh should have considered about the situation before constructing the huge structure as we live in downstream.

“Now, we are in problem with the barrage. So, the more rain water we could harvest, the more we will be benefitted,” she said.

She, however, added that the country must offset the crisis immediately “on our own” through dredging of rivers and preserving the rain waters.

“The prime and foremost responsibility of the Ministry of Water Resources should be protection of the rivers, enhancing their navigability and water reserving capacity to turn them into ‘blessings’ instead of ‘curses’,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said her government gave utmost importance to river dredging whereas the regimes assumed power after Bangabandhu’s murder had not taken the initiative for maintaining the rivers navigability. Water Resources Minister Anwar Hossain Monju and State Minister Nazrul Islam, Bir Pratik, joined as special guests the function chaired by the ministry’s acting secretary Kabir Bin Anwar while director general of Bangladesh Water Development Board Mohammad Mahfuzur Rahman gave the welcome address.

A documentary on the water management and activities of the Water Resources Ministry was displayed while the theme song on the World Water Day was played.

The prime minister said embankment construction was not the lone solution to river erosion and flood and maintenance of their banks needed to be done in such a way so the river courses remain unchanged.

She said after apart from dredging, the rivers should have adequate flood zones and green belt to reduce flood damages as “otherwise, the rivers might be devastating during the time of deluge”.

The prime minister said the natural reservoirs of water should be protected while the flow of the canals linking the rivers should be maintained and a flood zone should be created for conservation of the water.

Sheikh Hasina simultaneously stressed striking a balance among water, nature to meet the demand of present generation and preserve the water and environment for future generation.

“We must not waste water as ground water is limited. So, the use of ground water should be reduced for a sustainable development,” she said.

The prime minister said the United Nations adopted “Nature for Water” as the theme for World Water Day-2018 to encourage nature-based solutions to water problems.

“Importance of water is immense for environmental balance. Because, without water there will be no existence of living being,” she said.

The prime minister said as per MDG, 84 percent people were supposed to be brought under safe water by 2015 but her government brought 87 percent people the coverage in Bangladesh by the stipulated timeframe while currently 98 percent urban population of Bangladesh were getting safe water.

The prime minister said discussions were underway in the Bangladesh- India Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) on trans-boundary water management including an equitable sharing of the Teesta water.

Sheikh Hasina said the present government has almost finalized the “Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100”, an environment-friendly, integrated and strategic water management plan in cooperation of Dutch government.

The Delta Plan is a strategic one to protect Bangladesh’s landmass and sustainable development, meeting the challenges and demands of increasing population, she said.

The prime minister said the government since taking over power has given special emphasis to the restoration and development of natural wetlands, revival of the river and navigation.

In view of this, importance was given to river dredging, strengthening coastal embankments, addressing climate change, maintaining connectivity between the river and floodplain, creating buffer zone along riverbank for the protection of environment and ecosystem.

A concept paper has been finalized for preparing ‘dredging master plan’ in order to dredging of the rivers, haors, baors, canals, ponds and wetlands of the whole country in a comprehensive manner, she said.

World Water Day, celebrated every year since 1993, aims to bring attention to the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

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