Dhaka 19th July 2014. Today eighteen rights based civil society and coastal organizations organized a human chain and rally in front of the National Press Club and criticized government’s silence on the recent coastal catastrophes due to monsoon tidal flood and demanded immediate steps to protect coastal people and urged to think of the long term solutions. They also urged for Prime Minister attention in this regard.
Mostafa Kamal Akanda of EquityBD and COAST moderated the speech session after rally while the other speakers were AHM Bazlur Rahman of BNNRC, Aminur Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust, Mohamed Yasin of Coastal Protection Movement, Subol Das of Bangladesh Bhumihin Somity, Zayed Iqbal Khan of Bangladesh Krishok Federation, and Sawkat Ali Tutul and Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of EquityBD and COAST.
Eighteen organization who have participated in the rally are Online Knowledge Society, United People Trust, Unnayan Dhara Trust, Coastal Protection Movement, EquityBD, Kishani Shova, Charfassion Shorif Para Ekota Songho, Coastal Development Partnership, Bodwip Forum, Bangladesh Krishok Federation, Bangladesh Bhumihin Somity, Bangladesh NGO Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC), CMAS, Sirajganj Flood Forum, Swapnapuri, Suraakha O Agragoti Foundation, Saikat Unnayan Sangsta, and Humanity Watch.
On behalf of the group Sawkat Ali Tutul of COAST Trust read out eight point of specific demands: (i) Emergency allocation for the fiscal year of 2014-15 for immediate maintenance of embankments, (ii) Develop fast and transparent tender process of Water Development Board (WDB) and reduce system loss, (iii) Deployment of army and use their expertise in critical places as necessary, (iv) Device transparent and people’s participation in the work of WDB, (v) Keeping information disclosure and complain response mechanism in the work of WDB in the local level, (vi) Establishing local level accountability of WDB and other embankment related bodies, and above all (vii) Considering the protection of coastal people and land as the priority issues in the National Climate Adaptation Plan.
AHM Bazlur Rahman of BNNRC said in his speech that government’s silence on this issue is a human right violation while coastal people has the right to live as the country’s citizen. He added, if we keep losing the coastal land this way the country’s food security will be threatened.
Aminur Rasul of Unnayan Dhara Trust said that the population density of Dhaka is already 54 thousand per sqkm and if coastal people losing their land into the river keep coming to the city for employment, it will cause a social disaster as the city will not be able to accommodate more people.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury of COAST and EquityBD said that, government and donors has spent around taka 2 thousand crore in the name of climate trust and resilience funds, but money is hardly allocated or spent for protecting coastal lands and people. He demand immediate and long term steps in this regard.