A total of 20,508 people were killed in 2,572 waterway accidents across the country in the last 50 years, said Poribesh Bachao Andolon (POBA) on Tuesday.
Besides, it said, these accidents had left scores of people injured and damaged movable properties worth over Tk 34.17 billion during the same period.
It also said 80 per cent of the launch accidents took place due to faulty design of river vessels coupled with blunders by inexperienced launch masters.
Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Save the Environment Movement) revealed the findings at a human chain programme organised in front of National Museum at Shahbagh in the city.
Fifteen rights organisations including Save the Environment Movement organised the programme demanding exemplary punishment to those who were responsible for the devastating fire on a passenger launch in the Sugandha River in Jhalakathi district on December 24 that claimed 42 lives and left several others injured.
The leaders of the organisations also called upon the government to compel the launch owner to provide compensation to the fire victims.
Thanking the Department of Shipping for filing cases against the persons responsible for the fire incident, they urged the government to modernise the country's river-route system, considering its social, economic and environmental aspects.
The government should take effective measures to avert further accidents on the river routes by curbing all irregularities and mismanagement in the sector, considering the betterment of the country's economy and the people, they said.
Speaking at the event, chairman of Save the Environment Movement Abu Naser Khan said 863 inquiry committees, formed in the past after 565 launch accidents, had submitted their reports to the government with recommendations, but those were neither made public nor implemented.
Save the Environment will form an inquiry committee to investigate the fire incident which happened on MV Avijan-10 launch, he added.