Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) India and Bangladesh Institute of Planners, Bangladesh (BIP) Bangladesh jointly organised a day long workshop on lake conservation of Dhaka on August 7, 2011, The workshop was attended by researchers, activists, planners, advocates and regulators from both Bangladesh and India. The meeting was a first initiative to influence the policy debate on lakes in South Asia.
The objective of the meeting was to set up a network of people from the two countries involved in the conservation of lake. Dr. Jahurul Haque (Rajdhani Unnayan Katripakha, Bangladesh), Dr. Ishrat Islam (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology), Advocate Manzil Murshid (Human Rights and Peace Foundation, Bangladesh), Dr. Tej Razdan (Jheel Sanrakshan Samit, India), Dr. Mohit Ray (Vasundhara, India), Dr. Suresh Rohilla and Susmita Sengupta (CSE) talked about the threats and success stories on lakes from both countries. Dr. Sarwar Jahan (BIP) , Dr. Rohilla and Iqbal Habib (Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon) chaired the different sessions. Dr. Isharat said that Dhaka is no position to lose any more waterbodies in the name of development. Dr. Haque of RAJUK elaborately explained the new detailed area plan of Dhaka which has kept more than thirty percent of the area for wetlands and lakes. For the new developments around waterbodies, RAJUK is giving equal emphasis in the preservation of wetlands.
Dr. Mohd. Abdul Matin (Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon), Dr. Khairul Islam (Water Aid Bangladesh), Syed Mahbubul Alam, Work for better Bangladesh) were also part of the panel. The similarities of problems on the state of lakes from both the countries helped the eminent panel members to conclude that awareness and capacity building of both the citizens and government officials are necessary for revival of the waterbodies in both the countries. Development should never occur at the cost of these lakes said both the researchers, city planners and the activists.
Lakes are very important as they help in flood control, ground water recharge and storm protection. They also secure water for drinking, agriculture and industrial purposes. They play an important role in mitigating and adapting to the climate change effects. However, all South Asian cities are facing a huge water crisis and the cities such as Dhaka, Delhi, Kolkata and others in the region are no exception. Once, lakes played a vital role in South Asia’s urban landscape, but rapid urbanisation in the region has led to massive encroachment and pollution of its waterbodies.