Friday, December 15, 2017 EDITORIAL

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 EDITORIAL

47TH VICTORY DAY OF BANGLADESH
Uncertain future of our Democracy

Political freedom from alien subjugation, characterised by repression and exploitation, is the most glorious and treasured possession of a people owing to its nonpareil intrinsic significance. The nation is going to celebrate tomorrow with solemn reverence the Forty-seventh Victory Day which marked the fruition on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka of the nine-month long war against the marauding hordes of Pakistan Army which swooped on the innocent unarmed civilians of Bangladesh with grotesque ferocity. The Bangladeshis heaved a contented sigh of relief in profoundly gratifying delight at the ignominious defeat and disgraceful surrender of Lt. Gen. A A K Niazi along with 90,000 prisoners of war who had perpetrated a worst manmade catastrophe and genocide that killed millions. That humiliating surrender was their appropriate condign punishment.
Freedom Fighters of Bangladesh will never forget and forgive the terribly offensive sentimental wound they were inflicted with by the Indian government [none knows if the Bangladesh government in exile in Kolkata too was complicit in this heinous, ugly and humiliating game] why the then Bangladesh Army Chief General M A G Osmany was not allowed to be present at the surrender of the enemy forces of Pakistan at the Suhrawardy Udyan on that Victory Day.
What is more, an organizer of the 480-bed Bangladesh Hospital for freedom fighters and the refugees, Dr. Zafarullah Chowdhury has written how on that day the helicopter---which was carrying Gen. Osmany, Lt. Sheikh Kamal and himself---was under machinegun attack from below though Pakistani soldiers had fled that area of Sylhet---which remains a great mystery.
Military strategists in India---one among them was Major General J F R Jacob---and elsewhere have, of necessity, unequivocally recognised the most crucial fact that had there been no valiant pioneering battlefield role of Bengali soldiers in the 1971 Liberation War, a win by the Indian Army would have remained a fantasy or pipe dream.
Bahukutumbi Raman (1936–2013), former chief of India’s external intelligence agency RAW, writes in his book The Kaoboys of RAW: “India’s role was more of a facilitator than a creator. It was a war jointly won by India and the people of East Pakistan…Without the desire and the will of the people of Bangladesh, there would have been no Bangladesh. Their sacrifices for their cause were immense”.
While India’s active cooperation during the Liberation War, which has been eternally acknowledged by Dhaka, Rameshwar Nath Kao, who headed the Indian formidable spy agency RAW, assessed that the birth of Bangladesh eliminated a grave security threat to India from its eastern flank. Was it not a remarkably significant gain for India?
Except Morarji Desai and I.K. Gujral, all the other Indian heads of governments pursued diplomatic arm-twisting and harboured and armed the Shanti Bahini insurgents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts for at least 21 years.
A myopic foreign policy---presumably subject to vetting and approval by the South Block in Delhi---lacking foresight serves no useful purpose by any means. This gloomy state of affairs in Bangladesh has been condemned at home and abroad.
Seen as a distinctly domineering, bossy bully by its small neighbours, India’s short-sighted Bangladesh policy immediately needs significant overhauling, modification and calibration because it could be a very gross fallacy and erroneous belief to ignore her next door neighbor Bangladesh’s 17 crore people who are distinctly divided into two camps---the ruling Awami League (AL) along with its 13 other parties and 20 political parties led by the opposition BNP, a liberal democratic party miles away from extremism. Therefore, Delhi’s South Block officials should formulate a policy to befriend people—-not only AL chief Sheikh Hasina.
Delhi [which had sent its External Affairs Secretary Sujatha Singh prior to the 2014 elections to dictate/advise  the ruling AL] shall do well to ask the ruling AL not to stage another 5 January 2014-type, absolutely farcical unheard of parliamentary polls [when 153 AL persons became MPs without election] and see that it will be held on a
totally level playing field, must not be rigged and effectively deploy the Army troops for a few days before and after the parliament elections. For maintaining peace and tranquility this has to be done for avoiding ruling party AL-sponsored state terrorism in which brazenly politicized Police, the RAB and other agencies perpetrate
brutalities---while the pro-AL fear-provoking student body BCL, youth wing Juba League, workers’ body Sramik League give a free rein to violence.
During the Awami League (AL) regime of Sheikh Hasina from 2009 to 2015 numerous custodial deaths, violent crimes, a terrifying number of enforced disappearances of opposition political leaders belonging to the BNP took place. Besides, the journalist couple Sagor and Runi were killed; there was involvement of law enforcing agencies like RAB in seven political murders in Narayanganj; there was corruption of gargantuan proportions, namely, huge stock market swindling and big scams in government-owned banks.
Today Bangladesh is facing hazardous crisis of democracy. The issue of Caretaker Government was well settled in 1996 by Khaleda to meet the demand of Sheikh Hasina and her allies. It is Sheikh Hasina who [along with Jamaat-e-Islami, the party of war criminals] was all out for a Caretaker Government (CG) to ensure free and fair general elections and launched movement for CG, from 1994 to1996 during which years she called Hartals and blockades for 96 days. In those programmes marked by vandalism, bomb blasts, gunshots and arson, over 50 people were killed and over 1,000 people were wounded [Vide Opinion.bdnews24.com dated 10 June 2011]. But in 2010 the government of Sheikh Hasina sowed the seed of this absolutely unnecessary crisis by rescinding the CG claiming that no polls under Khaleda was acceptable. By the same token how can a Parliament election under Sheikh Hasina be accepted by BNP chief Khaleda Zia?

Comment

Political freedom from alien subjugation, characterised by repression and exploitation, is the most glorious and treasured possession of a people owing to its nonpareil intrinsic significance. The nation is going to celebrate tomorrow with solemn reverence the Forty-seventh Victory Day which marked the fruition on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka of the nine-month long war against the marauding hordes of Pakistan Army which swooped on the innocent unarmed civilians of Bangladesh with grotesque ferocity. The Bangladeshis heaved a contented sigh of relief in profoundly gratifying delight at the ignominious defeat and disgraceful surrender of Lt. Gen. A A K Niazi along with 90,000 prisoners of war who had perpetrated a worst manmade catastrophe and genocide that killed millions. That humiliating surrender was their appropriate condign punishment.
Freedom Fighters of Bangladesh will never forget and forgive the terribly offensive sentimental wound they were inflicted with by the Indian government [none knows if the Bangladesh government in exile in Kolkata too was complicit in this heinous, ugly and humiliating game] why the then Bangladesh Army Chief General M A G Osmany was not allowed to be present at the surrender of the enemy forces of Pakistan at the Suhrawardy Udyan on that Victory Day.
What is more, an organizer of the 480-bed Bangladesh Hospital for freedom fighters and the refugees, Dr. Zafarullah Chowdhury has written how on that day the helicopter---which was carrying Gen. Osmany, Lt. Sheikh Kamal and himself---was under machinegun attack from below though Pakistani soldiers had fled that area of Sylhet---which remains a great mystery.
Military strategists in India---one among them was Major General J F R Jacob---and elsewhere have, of necessity, unequivocally recognised the most crucial fact that had there been no valiant pioneering battlefield role of Bengali soldiers in the 1971 Liberation War, a win by the Indian Army would have remained a fantasy or pipe dream.
Bahukutumbi Raman (1936–2013), former chief of India’s external intelligence agency RAW, writes in his book The Kaoboys of RAW: “India’s role was more of a facilitator than a creator. It was a war jointly won by India and the people of East Pakistan…Without the desire and the will of the people of Bangladesh, there would have been no Bangladesh. Their sacrifices for their cause were immense”.
While India’s active cooperation during the Liberation War, which has been eternally acknowledged by Dhaka, Rameshwar Nath Kao, who headed the Indian formidable spy agency RAW, assessed that the birth of Bangladesh eliminated a grave security threat to India from its eastern flank. Was it not a remarkably significant gain for India?
Except Morarji Desai and I.K. Gujral, all the other Indian heads of governments pursued diplomatic arm-twisting and harboured and armed the Shanti Bahini insurgents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts for at least 21 years.
A myopic foreign policy---presumably subject to vetting and approval by the South Block in Delhi---lacking foresight serves no useful purpose by any means. This gloomy state of affairs in Bangladesh has been condemned at home and abroad.
Seen as a distinctly domineering, bossy bully by its small neighbours, India’s short-sighted Bangladesh policy immediately needs significant overhauling, modification and calibration because it could be a very gross fallacy and erroneous belief to ignore her next door neighbor Bangladesh’s 17 crore people who are distinctly divided into two camps---the ruling Awami League (AL) along with its 13 other parties and 20 political parties led by the opposition BNP, a liberal democratic party miles away from extremism. Therefore, Delhi’s South Block officials should formulate a policy to befriend people—-not only AL chief Sheikh Hasina.
Delhi [which had sent its External Affairs Secretary Sujatha Singh prior to the 2014 elections to dictate/advise  the ruling AL] shall do well to ask the ruling AL not to stage another 5 January 2014-type, absolutely farcical unheard of parliamentary polls [when 153 AL persons became MPs without election] and see that it will be held on a
totally level playing field, must not be rigged and effectively deploy the Army troops for a few days before and after the parliament elections. For maintaining peace and tranquility this has to be done for avoiding ruling party AL-sponsored state terrorism in which brazenly politicized Police, the RAB and other agencies perpetrate
brutalities---while the pro-AL fear-provoking student body BCL, youth wing Juba League, workers’ body Sramik League give a free rein to violence.
During the Awami League (AL) regime of Sheikh Hasina from 2009 to 2015 numerous custodial deaths, violent crimes, a terrifying number of enforced disappearances of opposition political leaders belonging to the BNP took place. Besides, the journalist couple Sagor and Runi were killed; there was involvement of law enforcing agencies like RAB in seven political murders in Narayanganj; there was corruption of gargantuan proportions, namely, huge stock market swindling and big scams in government-owned banks.
Today Bangladesh is facing hazardous crisis of democracy. The issue of Caretaker Government was well settled in 1996 by Khaleda to meet the demand of Sheikh Hasina and her allies. It is Sheikh Hasina who [along with Jamaat-e-Islami, the party of war criminals] was all out for a Caretaker Government (CG) to ensure free and fair general elections and launched movement for CG, from 1994 to1996 during which years she called Hartals and blockades for 96 days. In those programmes marked by vandalism, bomb blasts, gunshots and arson, over 50 people were killed and over 1,000 people were wounded [Vide Opinion.bdnews24.com dated 10 June 2011]. But in 2010 the government of Sheikh Hasina sowed the seed of this absolutely unnecessary crisis by rescinding the CG claiming that no polls under Khaleda was acceptable. By the same token how can a Parliament election under Sheikh Hasina be accepted by BNP chief Khaleda Zia?


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Trump-Mideast: It is much more than  a ‘Kiss of Death’ to Palestinians

Baher Kamal

ROME: US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital does not represent only a ‘kiss of death’ to the two-State solution, but also a strong blow in the face of 57 Muslim countries, let alone igniting fire in this easily inflammable region, providing more false arguments to criminal terrorist groups to escalate their brutal attacks, in addition to taking a step further in Washington’s new conflict with Iran and the ‘restructuring’ of the Middle East.
These are the main conclusions both Middle East analysts and international policy experts reached as soon as Trump announced on 6 December 2017 his decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus recognising as capital of Israel this Holy City, home to essential shrines of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The ‘Old City’ of Jerusalem has been steadily considered by Palestinians to become the capital of their future State, should all international agreements –including the United Nations General Assembly—implement their commitment for the two-State solution, one Israeli and one Palestinian.
Israeli captured Arab East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and since then has gradually annexed against all international protests and non-recognition. The ‘Old City’ in Jerusalem hosts Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina.
Palestinian leaders have already warned that Trump’s move could have dangerous consequences, calling for massive popular mobilisations that are feared to lead to new bloodshed in the occupied West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
“This is much more than a kiss of death to the longstanding international consensus to establish two-States as the sole feasible solution,” a former Egyptian high-ranking military official told IPS under condition of anonymity.

Trump’s decision will add more dangerous fuel
“[Trump’s] decision will add more dangerous fuel to the current rekindled flame over hegemony dispute between Shias lead by Iran and Sunnis lead by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, which fire President Trump has now contributed to strongly blow on.”
According to the retired high military official who participated in secret regional negotiations over the Middle East conflict, “The US has visibly shown its strategy to support the Sunni States in the Arab Gulf… Just see president Trump’s new weapons sale deal –worth 100 billion dollars—with the Saudi regime, and its tacit support –and even physical involvement—in the ongoing genocidal war against Yemen.”
Gulf Sunni Arab countries are home to a high percentage of Shias who have been systematically ruled by Sunni regimes. In some of them, like Bahrain, it is estimated that the Shias represent up to 60 per cent of the total population in spite of which they are considered minorities.

Oil, that “Black Gold”
The Egyptian analyst would not exclude a new armed conflict between the Gulf Arab Sunni states and Shia Iran. Such an armed conflict would break the already fragile stability in the region, leading to a strong rise in oil prices.
“This eventually would clearly benefit the US fossil energy sector, would weaken the oil-dependent European economies, let alone striking a strong blow to the also foreign oil-dependent China.”

Hatred, Terrorism
Another immediate, dangerous consequence of President Trump’s decision is a feared new wave of terrorist attacks against US, Israel and Western interests worldwide.
In fact, the Palestinian radical movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, has already urged Arabs and Muslims worldwide to “undermine U.S. interests in the region” and to “shun Israel.”
On this, Lebanese Muslim Shia cleric A. Khalil, expressed to IPS his “deep fear that the [Trump’s] decision will help criminal terrorist groups, falsely acting in the name of Islam, to exploit the furious anger of lay people against the US-led aggression against Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen… to commit more and more brutal, inhumane attacks.”
This will tragically and dangerously unleash a new wave of hatred and Islamophobia that will only add fuel to popular anger, to the benefit of terrorist groups, added the cleric.
For his part, Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar – which is considered the world’s highest institution of Sunni Islamic learning– announced on 5 December 2017 that Al-Azhar rejects Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“The US president’s decision denies the rights of Palestinians and Arabs to their holy city; it ignores the feelings of one-and-a-half-billion Muslims as well as millions of Arab Christians who have a connection to Jerusalem’s churches and monasteries,” he said in a statement issued following Trump’s announcement.
Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church and Al-Azhar issued statements warning of the “serious potential consequences” of Trump’s plan to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocate the US embassy there.

“Politically Correct” Words
Meanwhile, politicians have reacted to president Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel. Here some examples:
Mahmoud Abbas, president of Palestinian Authority, alerted of its “dangerous consequences,” while Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas chief, talked about “igniting the sparks of rage.”
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed his country’s firm stance on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international references and relevant UN resolutions, stressing the need to ensure that the situation in the region is not complicated by measures that undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia expressed “grave and deep concern,” while King Abdullah II of Jordan warned of “dangerous repercussions.”
Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi prime minister expressed “utmost concern,” and Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, secretary general of the Arab League, which groups all 22 Arab countries, characterised Trump’s decision as a “dangerous measure.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Jerusalem is a “red line for Muslims,” threatening cutting relations with Israel.
And Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, opposed Trump’s “unilateral action,” while Frederica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy representative, called for resolving Jerusalem’s status through negotiations.
Will words and “politically correct” statements reverse this new situation? Most likely they will not, at least if you judge by what’s happened over the last 98 years, i.e. since the then British Empire released its 1919 Balfour Declaration granting Israel a national home in Palestine.

Comment

Baher Kamal

ROME: US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital does not represent only a ‘kiss of death’ to the two-State solution, but also a strong blow in the face of 57 Muslim countries, let alone igniting fire in this easily inflammable region, providing more false arguments to criminal terrorist groups to escalate their brutal attacks, in addition to taking a step further in Washington’s new conflict with Iran and the ‘restructuring’ of the Middle East.
These are the main conclusions both Middle East analysts and international policy experts reached as soon as Trump announced on 6 December 2017 his decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus recognising as capital of Israel this Holy City, home to essential shrines of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
The ‘Old City’ of Jerusalem has been steadily considered by Palestinians to become the capital of their future State, should all international agreements –including the United Nations General Assembly—implement their commitment for the two-State solution, one Israeli and one Palestinian.
Israeli captured Arab East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and since then has gradually annexed against all international protests and non-recognition. The ‘Old City’ in Jerusalem hosts Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina.
Palestinian leaders have already warned that Trump’s move could have dangerous consequences, calling for massive popular mobilisations that are feared to lead to new bloodshed in the occupied West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
“This is much more than a kiss of death to the longstanding international consensus to establish two-States as the sole feasible solution,” a former Egyptian high-ranking military official told IPS under condition of anonymity.

Trump’s decision will add more dangerous fuel
“[Trump’s] decision will add more dangerous fuel to the current rekindled flame over hegemony dispute between Shias lead by Iran and Sunnis lead by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States, which fire President Trump has now contributed to strongly blow on.”
According to the retired high military official who participated in secret regional negotiations over the Middle East conflict, “The US has visibly shown its strategy to support the Sunni States in the Arab Gulf… Just see president Trump’s new weapons sale deal –worth 100 billion dollars—with the Saudi regime, and its tacit support –and even physical involvement—in the ongoing genocidal war against Yemen.”
Gulf Sunni Arab countries are home to a high percentage of Shias who have been systematically ruled by Sunni regimes. In some of them, like Bahrain, it is estimated that the Shias represent up to 60 per cent of the total population in spite of which they are considered minorities.

Oil, that “Black Gold”
The Egyptian analyst would not exclude a new armed conflict between the Gulf Arab Sunni states and Shia Iran. Such an armed conflict would break the already fragile stability in the region, leading to a strong rise in oil prices.
“This eventually would clearly benefit the US fossil energy sector, would weaken the oil-dependent European economies, let alone striking a strong blow to the also foreign oil-dependent China.”

Hatred, Terrorism
Another immediate, dangerous consequence of President Trump’s decision is a feared new wave of terrorist attacks against US, Israel and Western interests worldwide.
In fact, the Palestinian radical movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, has already urged Arabs and Muslims worldwide to “undermine U.S. interests in the region” and to “shun Israel.”
On this, Lebanese Muslim Shia cleric A. Khalil, expressed to IPS his “deep fear that the [Trump’s] decision will help criminal terrorist groups, falsely acting in the name of Islam, to exploit the furious anger of lay people against the US-led aggression against Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen… to commit more and more brutal, inhumane attacks.”
This will tragically and dangerously unleash a new wave of hatred and Islamophobia that will only add fuel to popular anger, to the benefit of terrorist groups, added the cleric.
For his part, Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar – which is considered the world’s highest institution of Sunni Islamic learning– announced on 5 December 2017 that Al-Azhar rejects Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“The US president’s decision denies the rights of Palestinians and Arabs to their holy city; it ignores the feelings of one-and-a-half-billion Muslims as well as millions of Arab Christians who have a connection to Jerusalem’s churches and monasteries,” he said in a statement issued following Trump’s announcement.
Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church and Al-Azhar issued statements warning of the “serious potential consequences” of Trump’s plan to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocate the US embassy there.

“Politically Correct” Words
Meanwhile, politicians have reacted to president Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel. Here some examples:
Mahmoud Abbas, president of Palestinian Authority, alerted of its “dangerous consequences,” while Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas chief, talked about “igniting the sparks of rage.”
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stressed his country’s firm stance on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of international references and relevant UN resolutions, stressing the need to ensure that the situation in the region is not complicated by measures that undermine the chances of peace in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia expressed “grave and deep concern,” while King Abdullah II of Jordan warned of “dangerous repercussions.”
Haider al-Abadi, Iraqi prime minister expressed “utmost concern,” and Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, secretary general of the Arab League, which groups all 22 Arab countries, characterised Trump’s decision as a “dangerous measure.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Jerusalem is a “red line for Muslims,” threatening cutting relations with Israel.
And Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, opposed Trump’s “unilateral action,” while Frederica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy representative, called for resolving Jerusalem’s status through negotiations.
Will words and “politically correct” statements reverse this new situation? Most likely they will not, at least if you judge by what’s happened over the last 98 years, i.e. since the then British Empire released its 1919 Balfour Declaration granting Israel a national home in Palestine.


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Dhaka city’s canals can be recovered

A. M. K. Chowdhury

Town planning, a dynamic process that is constantly evolving in response to changes. involves both control of existing and new development, and “strategic planning”. Town planners develop strategies.They work with other professionals such as engineers, architects, building surveyors, economists, developers, politicians, scientists and environmental scientists.
Over the past decade moderate monsoon shower inundate several key areas of Dhaka city, including the Secretariat at Abdul Gani Road and front of the parliament on Manik Mia Avenue, Dhanmondi, Dhaka University, Neelkhet, Azimpur, Farmgate, Green Road, Mirpur, Mouchak, Malibagh, Motijheel and Gulistan. Moderate rainfall yesterday once again inundated parts of several major streets in the capital causing huge traffic congestion.

Blight of waterlogging
Since several streets were partially submerged, vehicles used one lane, resulting in congestion, said Adibul Islam, assistant commissioner of traffic in Tejgaon zone.Traffic movement on Mirpur Road from Dhanmondi stretching up to Gabtoli, Farmgate, Motijheel, Gulistan and Mirpur-10 intersection remained very slow due to waterlogging.
According to the Dhaka WASA, until 1985, the capital had 54 canals and most of those were interlinked making their ultimate journey towards the four rivers around the city easy. It is not at all difficult to detect how most of them got lost or buried and the nature of hindrance that caused them so. All it takes, according to the experts, is political will - one that we happen to experience only occasionally.

Plight of Dhaka city after downpour
In August this year Bijoy Sarani-Rokeya Sarani intersection at the northeastern end of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban showed road pavement under ankle-deep water even though waterlogging was rare in this area last year. As a result of such heavy rain, much of the capital turned into a waterbody. On the waterlogged city streets, buses, private cars and three-wheelers came to a standstill for some hours.
Though it looks to be a daunting task to recover the capital’s 43 lost canals and many other wetlands to restore its natural drainage network, green activists think well-thought-out plans, government’s strong political commitment, enforcement of law and engagement of army can help reclaim those effectively, reported UNB.
Talking to the news agency, noted environment experts Dr Atiq Rahman, chief executive of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers’ Association (BELA) Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Poribesh Bachao Andolan (POBA) chairman Abu Naser Khan, Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA) general secretary M A Matin and its joint secretary and architect Iqbal Habib also said that the canals of Dhaka city —-which have been grabbed —-can be reclaimed.

Social movement against canal grabbers needed
They also said a social movement against the grabbers of canals, water bodies and rivers is also necessary to protect the city and its environment. According to sources at Dhaka WASA, the number of city canals now has come down to 43, though there were 65 canals in its map 30-40 years back. “First, we need to make a proper map of the city canals and fix their exact numbers through a government gazette. Then, we’ll have to identify the occupied parts of the canals and the encroachers to take action,” said Dr Atiq Rahman.
He said the government in coordination with two city corporations, RAJUK and other agencies, including law enforcement ones, work out an effective plan to evict the grabbers in phases. Rizwana Hasan said, “Canals should be considered as a legal entity. At least two-thirds of the city’s canals still can be restored if only the government high-ups move ahead with a good will and strong political commitment.”
Like in Dhaka, many canals of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, were filled up and made flyovers, roads and multistory buildings 20-30 years ago. But, the authorities there have started dismantling the structures to revive the canals. So, the recovery of the Dhaka city’s canals is still possible like Seoul.
The government can engage army to recover the canals as the administrative officials and law enforcers usually succumb to the influence and power of the grabbers.The BAPA general secretary also said the detailed area plan (DAP) of Dhaka city should be implemented immediately to recover the canals wetlands from land grabbers. “A new law should also be enacted to take stern punitive action against the land grabbers.” Iqbal Habib said a comprehensive and coordinated plan will have to be worked out involving two city corporations, Dhaka WASA, Land and Public Works Ministries and Water Development Board to recover the canals and water bodies.

39 canals have totally disappeared
A daily newspaper reported that 39 canals have totally disappeared. Those that are still alive are mostly in the grip of influential quarters. Besides, due to construction of roads and walkways on both sides of the canals, there is hardly any space left to maintain them to allow discharge of water. On the other hand, unplanned urbanisation has led to the building of box culverts over the canals, an act believed to be instrumental in killing the vital arteries of the capital.
In fact, it doesn’t require an expert to bring home the importance of canals in rescuing Dhaka from the dreadful water logging and a host of other accompanying problems and public suffering. However, help from the experts is necessary to identify the routes of the canals lost to human greed and misdeeds. Professor Ainun Nishat, noted environmentalist in an interview with a local daily, commented that tracing the routes of the canals can easily be done from documents, including the length and breadth of each and every canal. The Dhaka district administration can play a leading role in this. Most of the canals are ‘owned’ by the district authority.
The Dhaka WASA is in charge of maintaining about two dozens of the canals, the remaining few are virtually ‘orphans’ with no single agency assigned to maintain them. Another renowned urban expert Professor Nazrul Islam commented that the only way we can hope to recover the lost canals and maintain those is through enacting a law. Mere threats with no effective enforcement won’t help.

Comment

A. M. K. Chowdhury

Town planning, a dynamic process that is constantly evolving in response to changes. involves both control of existing and new development, and “strategic planning”. Town planners develop strategies.They work with other professionals such as engineers, architects, building surveyors, economists, developers, politicians, scientists and environmental scientists.
Over the past decade moderate monsoon shower inundate several key areas of Dhaka city, including the Secretariat at Abdul Gani Road and front of the parliament on Manik Mia Avenue, Dhanmondi, Dhaka University, Neelkhet, Azimpur, Farmgate, Green Road, Mirpur, Mouchak, Malibagh, Motijheel and Gulistan. Moderate rainfall yesterday once again inundated parts of several major streets in the capital causing huge traffic congestion.

Blight of waterlogging
Since several streets were partially submerged, vehicles used one lane, resulting in congestion, said Adibul Islam, assistant commissioner of traffic in Tejgaon zone.Traffic movement on Mirpur Road from Dhanmondi stretching up to Gabtoli, Farmgate, Motijheel, Gulistan and Mirpur-10 intersection remained very slow due to waterlogging.
According to the Dhaka WASA, until 1985, the capital had 54 canals and most of those were interlinked making their ultimate journey towards the four rivers around the city easy. It is not at all difficult to detect how most of them got lost or buried and the nature of hindrance that caused them so. All it takes, according to the experts, is political will - one that we happen to experience only occasionally.

Plight of Dhaka city after downpour
In August this year Bijoy Sarani-Rokeya Sarani intersection at the northeastern end of the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban showed road pavement under ankle-deep water even though waterlogging was rare in this area last year. As a result of such heavy rain, much of the capital turned into a waterbody. On the waterlogged city streets, buses, private cars and three-wheelers came to a standstill for some hours.
Though it looks to be a daunting task to recover the capital’s 43 lost canals and many other wetlands to restore its natural drainage network, green activists think well-thought-out plans, government’s strong political commitment, enforcement of law and engagement of army can help reclaim those effectively, reported UNB.
Talking to the news agency, noted environment experts Dr Atiq Rahman, chief executive of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers’ Association (BELA) Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Poribesh Bachao Andolan (POBA) chairman Abu Naser Khan, Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA) general secretary M A Matin and its joint secretary and architect Iqbal Habib also said that the canals of Dhaka city —-which have been grabbed —-can be reclaimed.

Social movement against canal grabbers needed
They also said a social movement against the grabbers of canals, water bodies and rivers is also necessary to protect the city and its environment. According to sources at Dhaka WASA, the number of city canals now has come down to 43, though there were 65 canals in its map 30-40 years back. “First, we need to make a proper map of the city canals and fix their exact numbers through a government gazette. Then, we’ll have to identify the occupied parts of the canals and the encroachers to take action,” said Dr Atiq Rahman.
He said the government in coordination with two city corporations, RAJUK and other agencies, including law enforcement ones, work out an effective plan to evict the grabbers in phases. Rizwana Hasan said, “Canals should be considered as a legal entity. At least two-thirds of the city’s canals still can be restored if only the government high-ups move ahead with a good will and strong political commitment.”
Like in Dhaka, many canals of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, were filled up and made flyovers, roads and multistory buildings 20-30 years ago. But, the authorities there have started dismantling the structures to revive the canals. So, the recovery of the Dhaka city’s canals is still possible like Seoul.
The government can engage army to recover the canals as the administrative officials and law enforcers usually succumb to the influence and power of the grabbers.The BAPA general secretary also said the detailed area plan (DAP) of Dhaka city should be implemented immediately to recover the canals wetlands from land grabbers. “A new law should also be enacted to take stern punitive action against the land grabbers.” Iqbal Habib said a comprehensive and coordinated plan will have to be worked out involving two city corporations, Dhaka WASA, Land and Public Works Ministries and Water Development Board to recover the canals and water bodies.

39 canals have totally disappeared
A daily newspaper reported that 39 canals have totally disappeared. Those that are still alive are mostly in the grip of influential quarters. Besides, due to construction of roads and walkways on both sides of the canals, there is hardly any space left to maintain them to allow discharge of water. On the other hand, unplanned urbanisation has led to the building of box culverts over the canals, an act believed to be instrumental in killing the vital arteries of the capital.
In fact, it doesn’t require an expert to bring home the importance of canals in rescuing Dhaka from the dreadful water logging and a host of other accompanying problems and public suffering. However, help from the experts is necessary to identify the routes of the canals lost to human greed and misdeeds. Professor Ainun Nishat, noted environmentalist in an interview with a local daily, commented that tracing the routes of the canals can easily be done from documents, including the length and breadth of each and every canal. The Dhaka district administration can play a leading role in this. Most of the canals are ‘owned’ by the district authority.
The Dhaka WASA is in charge of maintaining about two dozens of the canals, the remaining few are virtually ‘orphans’ with no single agency assigned to maintain them. Another renowned urban expert Professor Nazrul Islam commented that the only way we can hope to recover the lost canals and maintain those is through enacting a law. Mere threats with no effective enforcement won’t help.


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