Secure people’s right to water

Dhaka, Oct 19 – Kazi Reajul Huq, chairman, Bangladesh Human Rights Commission on Thursday called for safeguarding the people’s right to water as a basic right. Addressing a photo exhibition ‘Water and Life’ organized by the Development Organisation of the Rural Poor (DORP) at the Drik Gallery in Dhanmondi residential area, he said although water was not mentioned in the Bangladesh Constitution as a fundamental right it can be interpreted as being included in the basic necessity of food which is specifically mentioned.
The exhibition is intended to inspire greater initiatives by the private organizations for water resources management particularly in the coastal and haor areas of the country. Mohammad Zubair Hasan introduced the background to the exhibition. The inaugural function was presided over by DORP chairman Azhar Ali Talukdar
The inauguration of the 3-day exhibition was also addressed by Hosneara Aktar, ex-Deputy Secretary, Water Resources Ministry, Dr Khairul Islam, Country Representative, WaterAid, Mostafa Kamal Majumder, Consultant Editor, The Asian Age and Mir Shamsul Alam, Senior Photographer.
The NHRC chairman said people have basic rights to those things which are inalienable. Our life in Bangladesh is intertwined with water. The NHRC chairman expressed his dismay at the way the people are getting deprived of the right to safe water. He made mention of many canals creeks have been grabbed and the pollution of rivers that was going unabated. Diversion flows of common rivers is also a big problem, he said.
Kazi Reajul Huq said it is happy to note that the world has resolved to achieve SDGs most of those are related to water. We should stop misuse. Ensure sustainable and integrated water development. Underscoring the importance of awareness about water he said the importance of water should be understood by all.
Referring to the 2013 water law and the 2017 water rules he said that water should come under the definition of basic rights as was accepted in a UN resolution.
Mostafa Kamal Majumder appreciated the initiative to highlight different aspects of water and life in Bangladesh for promoting integrated management of water resources in the country. He drew attention to Bangladesh’s dependence on the common rivers which not only built the land area comprising the world’s biggest delta but also supplied 90 percent of its surface water. Welcoming the government for framing the 100-year Delta Plan he said the plan would be difficult to implement without ensuring its connectivity to the rivers. Unavailability of surface water forced the excessive extraction of groundwater for irrigation and this led to the arsenic problem, marked as the biggest man-made environmental disaster in the world.
Khairul Islam said people talked about water as a human right, but the water law of 2013 or the water rules of 2017 nowhere make mention of it. Fact remains that Bangladesh is a signatory to the UN resolution that terms water as the human right.
Hosne Ara Aktar said people talk about the right to water but water availability has gone down progressively, while water pollution has emerged as a big problem. Salinity is affecting water availability in the coastal areas. The people face a big dilemma as was does now flow down the common rivers to Bangladesh. She underlines the need for the people to come forward to establish their water rights. – Staff Reporter