JBS Vol 20. Num 2. 2018 - Endangered Delta and the People’s Movement for Its Survival

Sharif Jamil

Bangladesh has one of the largest river systems in the world. Known as the Ganges Delta, it is also the world’s largest delta and empties into the Bay of Bengal. For centuries this has been the lifeline of people who built villages, towns and cities surrounding these water bodies which support economy of the population depending largely on transportation, fishing and agriculture. This paper analyses the current state of the Bangladesh river systems and its wetlands. It examines the role of the custodians of these resources, the state and business interests, the mega projects being launched, and the impact these activities will likely have on the environment and the rich biodiversity that still exists in these water bodies. The analysis demonstrates that the aquatic life in Bangladesh river system and wetland is reducing, the wetland based ecosystem is threatened, and the living condition of people living around these systems is deteriorating. The paper notes how popular movements have repeatedly called for environmental impact studies of these projects, and implementation of environment-friendly and cost effective projects using global quality standards to safeguard the Ganges delta, a unique water system of great beauty and importance. But these calls have been met with only limited action. However, as the paper relates, the recent verdict from Bangladesh courts in favor of these movements giving legal rights to all the rivers and wetlands of Bangladesh have raised the hopes of water advocates around the globe.