Review of law and policy to protect water bodies in Bangladesh
Syed Mahbubul Alam, LLB
Advocate, Policy Analyst
Bangladesh is a land of river/canals and large sources of drinking water. Apart from natural water bodies, this country has innumerous artificially created water resources like, ponds, lakes and canals. In order to eliminate the shortage of drinking water a large number of artificial reservoirs had been created here. But in course of time, the natural and artificial water reservoirs had been subjected to pollution, forceful possession and filling up.
In the recent years, the level of incidence of forceful possession of water bodies have grown in great numbers. The water bodies in this country are being forcefully possessed filled up and polluted both by Govt. and non-Govt. agencies. Although there is no clear cut legislation towards protection of water bodies under private ownership, there are laws to protect the natural reservoirs. But lack of coordination among the responsible department, weak enforcement of laws, limitation of proper planning and monitoring, due to lack of planning and foresight many a reservoirs in this land have been destroyed.
Due to relentless activities of environment concerned people and organizations towards conservation of the country's water bodies, the Government has expected to take a wide spread programme with a view to protect the water bodies. These programme includes, creation and amendment of laws, enhancement of authorities of institutions, monitoring and strengthening of enforcement of legislations. Maintenance of strict view of the Apex Court towards conservation of water bodies, enforcement of the existing laws has gathered momentum to a great extent. Application and enforcement of these legislations can play a notable role in the conservation of water reservoirs of the country.
In accordance with the National Drinking Water Policy, National Drinking Water Resources Council has been instituted consisting of representatives from different Ministries. The Council will bear all the responsibilities related to materialization of the water arrangement programme and the water resources planning commission will look after the secretarial activities of the council. The Government is associated with more than 40 organizations regarding water arrangement issues. There are certain specific laws for management of drinking water. However, in the laws and policies of other organizations drinking water, conservation and management of water bodieshave been emphasized.
In Bangladesh the following policies are there with regard to drinking water and water bodies:
National Drinking Water Policy (1999), National Environment Policy (1992), National Fish Polity (1998, National Water Supply and Drainage Policy (1998), National Agriculture Policy (1999), National Forestry Policy (1998), National Industry Policy (2010), National Naval Policies (2000), National Land Policy, National Water Management Plan, Coastal Zone Policy.
In Bangladesh the following legislations are there with regard to drinking water and water bodies:
Bangladesh Water Act, 2013, National River Protection Commission Act, 2013, All Playgrounds of Municipal Area, Open Area, Park and natural water reservoir including Municipal Area of City, Divisional Town & District Town, Conservation Act, 2000, Water Resource Planning Act, 1992, Bangladesh Water Development Board Act, 2000, Ground Water Management Ordinance (1985), Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995, The Canal Act, 1864, The Embankment & Drainage Act, 1952[, Water Supply and Drainage Authority Act, 1996, Real Estate Development and Control Act, 2010, The Ports Act, 1908, The Public Parks Act, 1904,The Irrigation Act, 1876,The Tanks Improvement Act, 1939,The Cantonments Act, 1924,The Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act, 1974, Local Government (Municipal) Act, 2009, Local Government (City Corporation) Act. 2009, Local Government (Union Council) Act.
There are a number of water related laws and different organizations are associated with these. These legislation's can be divided into two segments one, practical or conservation related and the other laws related to use of water resources. Here the water resources or waterbodies conservation related laws are analyzed.