Observed on the last Saturday of September each year, the World Rivers Day passed quietly enough for the common people not to notice. This could happen because neither the policymakers nor the general public are capable of appreciating the role of rivers in the nation's life. What a collective dementia! This country is what it is because of the many rivers and tributaries. But sadly, most rivers here are in a sorry state. Quite a number of rivers have already disappeared from the face of the Earth, others are counting their days and still others are maintaining a low profile. All this is a cause for serious concern. In a country where a vast majority of people's lives and livelihoods cannot be separated from rivers, the indifference shown to rivers is unpardonable. Love and respect for rivers alone could prompt people to celebrate the day. Rather, encroachment of rivers has been so rampant that soon its impact will prove disastrous for the country.
The saying that rivers are the lifelines is not for nothing. Human civilisation flourished on the banks of rivers in ancient times. The peoples then knew how important it was to cohabit with rivers. Even today in developed countries, rivers flowing through cities are maintained with utmost care because they know the value of the winding beauties. The picture is opposite here. All the rivers girdling the capital or flowing by cities and towns are gasping for breath. Abuse of rivers and their banks could not be more mindless. On account of unrelenting encroachment, use of rivers as dumping grounds of solid waste, polythene bags, rejected plastic and industrial effluent, the water bodies are choking up. So polluted are the waters of the Buriganga and other rivers here that living organism -let alone fish -cannot survive there.
Everyone knows that rivers are the sources of sweet water and if unpolluted, river water could be treated for supplying to the consumers. Experts are concerned that the rising of the sea level due to global warming can lead to intrusion of sea waters into the mainland rivers of many nations. Because river systems crisscross lands of several nations, sharing of water between and among countries in a rational manner is crucial. No wonder, they predict a third world war over water. Not a good prospect for the mankind!
The origin of all the rivers flowing through this land is in the upper riparian territories in the Himalayas. Much depends on how the co-riparian nations cooperate between and among them to ensure the most rational use of the flows. Domestically, what is most important is to ensure proper maintenance of the rivers. For example, the Dawki River on the Indian side is maintained so meticulously that its water remains crystal clear so much so that the river bed can be seen clearly with naked eyes. Water in the same river on the Jaflong side is muddy because of commercial stone extraction. But it was not so a few decades ago. Maltreatment of rivers has its backlashes. It is time the rivers here were treated with reverence in the interest of the nation's future.
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