Md Tajul Islam did not mention any timeframe to begin the drive but said the government would need ten years to make all rivers navigable and pollution-free
The Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Ministry has formed a committee to make the third master plan to free four rivers from grabbers, to curb their pollution and to bring back their navigability.
The rivers are the Padma, the Meghna, the Turag and the Pungli.
The chief secretary of the prime minister will head the committee.
Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives Minister Md Tajul Islam on Sunday said the government was working to implement the previous master plans made to reduce pollution and improve the navigability of rivers around Dhaka and Chattogram.
The minister said this at a press conference at his ministry after a meeting with officials of different ministries.
The government on July 21 last year unveiled the master plans to protect five rivers in Dhaka and two in Chattogram from grabbing and pollution, and to improve their navigability.
The minister did not mention any timeframe to begin the drive but said the government would need ten years to make all rivers navigable and pollution-free.
The master plans last year proposed 24 primary and 180 supplementary measures for the Dhaka rivers – Buriganga, Turag, Balu, Dhaleshwari and Pungli – and 39 canals connected with these rivers.
The plans suggested 45 primary and 167 supplementary measures for the Karnaphuli and the Halda rivers in Chattogram.
The minister said as per the master plan, the conservation measures include one year of crash programmes, three years of short-term programmes, five years of mid-term programmes, and a decade of long-term programmes.
"We have held a meeting with all the authorities concerned, and asked them to identify the problems and take actions to implement the master plans," he said.
Tajul said the government's primary target was to stop throwing both domestic and industrial wastes into rivers.
"That is why we have to create awareness among the people. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is very concerned about the pollution in rivers. We have sent the messages to all the ministries concerned," he said.
The minister said, "Following the prime minister's directive, we have drafted the master plans and she approved those last year."
Asked about the stock of mosquito-killing drugs, he said, "Adequate mosquito-killing drugs are in the stock of the two city corporations in Dhaka. We are ready to face any vector-borne diseases in Bangladesh."
Tajul said, "According to the World Health Organisation, about seven lakh people died of vector-borne diseases across the world. Of them, 43 died in Bangladesh."
"Actually, we can kill insects anywhere in the country. But a few insects are harmful to our health. So, we have to be careful while killing them with chemicals.
"Vector-borne diseases change their patterns every year. That is why we cannot use the previous drugs," he added.