Speakers in a Human Chain and Procession in Khulna stressed for an order from Government to prohibit saline water intrusion in the agricultural land for longevity of the coastal embankments and sustainable agriculture in Coastal Zone of Bangladesh. They also demanded to undertake Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Programme to foster country's development with equity and justice. Humanitywatch along with other more than 29 organizations including Saline Water Protesting Committee, Association of Landless People and Dacope Citizens' Committee organized the program under Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) on 1st April 2010 in front of Khulna District Council. Hundreds of landless farmer, agricultural labour, political leaders, civil society representatives, non-government organization leaders and professional association leaders participated in the program. The human chain chaired by educationalist Professor Jafar Imam and conducted by humanitywatch chief executive Hasan Mehedi.
Humanitywatch along with members from Ganges Floodplain Agroecological zone AOSED, CDP, Dhrupad, EFADF, Ideal, IDF, Jago Nari, JJS, Khalifa Foundation, Ledars, Locos, Muktir Alo, NSS, PGUS, Prodipan, Progoti, Rupayan, Saco, SPS, Sodesh, Uddom and Campaign lead Uttaran organized the Human Chain and Submission of Memorandum with active support from BELA, Nijera Kori, Dacope Nagorik Parishad, Lobonjol Protirodh Committee and Bhumihin Sangathan.
The speakers said, the agriculture and livestock of coastal zone already have declined due to excessive saline water intrusion by cutting the embankments. Situation of poverty has reduced in all of the regions of Bangladesh except the southwest coastal zone due to brackish water shrimp cultivation. Some people become rich with the shrimp, but millions of people become poorer from the poor. The largest mangrove forest, Sundarbans, also destroyed due to denuding its buffer zone and adjacent agroforestry trends.
The farmers said, the embankments weakened before cyclone Aila because the shrimp farm owners cut embankments in more than hundred places, installed more than 3 hundred illegal sluice gates, and more than 3 thousand 7 hundred pipes in the embankments. So, they are solely responsible for collapsing the embankments in cyclone Aila. With collaboration of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) the shrimp farm owners are still trying to stop rehabilitation of the embankments, they complained.
According to the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP) and Manual of BWDB, brackish water shrimp cultivation is totally prohibited in some polders. Moreover, the Supreme Court has ordered the government to protect cultivable land from saline water in its judgement on 15 February 2010. But the shrimp farm owners ignored all laws and regulations, the civil society leaders said.
The speakers urged the government to implement 8 point demand including implementing Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), banning industrial shrimp cultivation in agricultural land, dismantling all illegal sluice gates, pipes and cuts, punishment of responsible persons for damaging embankments, compensation from shrimp farm owners for social and environmental loss, distributing Khasland and common water bodies to the landless common people, amendment of Embankment and Drainage Act 1952, adoption of a new Embankment Management Policy with options of participation, tidal river management (TRM) and joint management etc.
Among others Jalal Uddin of Nijera Kori, Mahfuzur Rahman Mukul of BELA, Agriculturist Tayyebur Rahman of EFADF, Alamgir Islam Lablu of SPS, Deb Prosad Roy of Locos, Abu Hasan Bakul of Muktir Alo, Khalid Hossain of Rupayan, SM Solayman of IDF, Swapon Kumar Das of Dalit, Habibur Rahman Kabir of NEEDS, Mamunur Rashid of Juba Nagorik Samaj, Farmers' Leader Abdul Jalil, Kader Mollah and Arnika Dhali, Amiya Das, Atiar Rahman and Jahanara Begum of Labonjol Protirodh Committee, Chitta Goldar and SA Rashid of Communist Party of Bangladesh, Rafiqul Huq Khokon of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Manirul Huq Bacchu of Biplobi Communist Party, Dr. Samaresh Mondal of Workers Party, Shariful Islam Salim of Humanitywatch and Hasan Mehedi of Aila Durgoto Sanghati Mancho addressed the participants.
National electronic media Ekushe Television and Banglavision telecasted the program in their news. Local daily newspapers daily Purbanchal, daily Janmabhumi, daily Probaho, daily Probartan, daily Anirban and daily Tathya along with National daily newspapers such as Daily Sangbad, Daily Kaler Kantho, Daily Jaijaidin, Daily Samakal, Daily Jugantor and Daily Newage published the news of the program.Please click on the links to see the news. See the attached photos and newspaper clippings for more information.
Daily Jaijaidin: http://www.jaijaidin.com/details.php?nid=183309Daily Jugantor: http://jugantor.biz/enews/issue/2010/04/02/news0102.php