Old canals in Dhaka will be re-excavated: HPM Sheikh Hasina

 

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said all old canals in Dhaka would be re-excavated for preserving surface water and water management apart from excavating new one.

She also said her government has undertaken a plan for decreasing the dependency on underground water to ensuring safe water from surface water sources by 2021 in divisional cities.

The prime minister said this while inaugurating three-day Dhaka Water Summit-2017 at Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon here on Saturday.

Sheikh Hasina called for taking comprehensive approach to achieve the target of safe water for everybody by 2030 as it will help attaining other goals of SDGs.

"Comprehensive approach is needed to achieve the goal of safe water and sanitation as prescribed in the SDG-6 as it will make easier attaining at least seven other goals of SDGs, she said

Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Chief Coordinator on SDG Affairs in the Prime Minister's Office Abul Kalam Azad spoke, among others, on the occasion, while LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain was in the chair.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, one of the members in the UN special panel for water and sanitation, said, steps are underway to build reservoirs in industrial and housing areas, installing rainwater harvesting system and draining out wastes and polluted water.

The three-day Water Conference is featured with Delta Conference and meeting of High-level Water Panel (HLWP) representatives called Sherpas, to formulate future strategies to face challenges of safe water management, sewerage and sanitation.

The Prime Minister said the 6th one of the United Nations 17 'SDG-2030' goals is 'Ensuring Safe Water and Sewerage System for All'. She hoped that interactive expert dialogues at the 'Dhaka Water Conference, Delta Conference and Sherpa meetings would help formulate future strategies to face challenges of safe water management, sewerage and sanitation.

Sheikh Hasina said water is accounted for 90 percent disasters in the world while about 70 percent deaths in natural calamities occur owing to flood and other water-related disasters.

"Accessibility to drinkable water could not be ensured for about one billion people of the world till now as less than one percent water resource of the earth is considered as safe for drinking," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said water usages pattern has been changed due to the increased population, fast urbanization and technological differences but "the threat to the availability of drinkable water still persists".

About 40 percent people of the world are suffering more or less from the problem of safe drinking water, she said, adding that more than 1.7 billion people can't meet their demand of water even though they live in the river basins.

"So potable water is not only essential for human being and also for the entire animal kingdom," the prime minister said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is a land of rivers. One-third of its total area is water resources. There are over 800 small and big rivers, and 57 trans-boundary rivers in our country.

She said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman realized that proper management of rivers and water resources is closely inter-linked to all sorts of development of Bangladesh while water issue was crucial for Bangladesh's overall development.

That is why soon after the independence Bangabandhu constituted the 'Joint River Commission (JRC) in 1972 on trans-boundary water management.

In continuation of the process, she said, the Awami League government in 1996 resolved the water sharing dispute of the Ganges River with neighboring India through signing of the 30-year Ganges Water Sharing Agreement.

The premier said her government successfully spearheaded the campaign for safe water while against the MDG target of 84 percent, 87 percent people were brought under safe water coverage while in urban areas the figure was 98 percent.

Moreover, Sheikh Hasina said, 99 people of the country by now were brought under sanitation coverage and of them 61 percent were using cent percent healthy sanitation systems.

The rate of defecation in open places dropped drastically below 1 percent during the last 8 years while the figure was 42 percent even in 2003.

"Setting new target, a time-based action plan is being implemented in this regard," she said.

The premier said her government took multi-fold programmes for special communities, like children of educational institutions, saline or arsenic-affected areas and rugged hills well ahead of announcing the directives of SDG-6 and "safe water is being supplied to the grassroots people of remote areas through these programmes".

She said as Bangladesh is a Deltaic country, its water management is identical from the other regions of the world. A total of five hundred million people live in the delta region which comprises only five percent of world's total land area.

The delta area is densely populated. Many large and big cities, ports, big industrial belts and agriculture-based areas are built in the delta region, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh initiated a 100-year 'Bangladesh Delta Plan-2100' for the coordinated water resources management.

"Under the plan availability of water, its uses and ecological issues have been brought under consideration," she added.

Photo: Saiful Islam Kallol

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