Green activists at a rally in Habiganj town yesterday demanded proper investigation and punishment of those involved in grabbing lands along the Khowai river.
Over a hundred activists of different environmental organisations joined the human chain in Khowai Mukh area in the morning, marking the 'International Day of Action for Rivers.'
Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA), Habiganj unit, and Khowai River Waterkeeper organised the programme with Tofazzal Sohel of Khowai River Waterkeeper, also general secretary of BAPA, Habiganj unit, in the chair.
During a visit to Khowai river bank area yesterday, several farmers, mostly marginal and landless, told this correspondent as the river has very little water in the dry season they face huge problems in crops cultivation.
They all urged the authorities concerned to re-excavate the riverbed and build sluice gates to facilitate irrigation.
Saidur Rahman, a resident of Mashulia area in the town, said many encroachers have built a number of permanent and makeshift shops, markets, restaurants and even crematorium inside the river demarcation pillars by grabbing the river land illegally.
Tofazzal Sohel, general secretary of BAPA, Habiganj unit, said the river which flows by the side of Habiganj town has turned into a narrow canal and contains polluted water nowadays due to mindless encroachment and dumping of factory and human wastes.
He said although such encroachment poses threat to the ecosystem and livelihood of the local people, the government remains mum in this regard.
Rotarian Tobarak Ali Laskar said Khowai river pollution has been increasing alarmingly as chemical wastes from nearby small factories along the river bank are directly dumped into the river.