Water Rights Forum (WRF) is a national platform of seven rights based organization including ARLD, Nijera Kori, BNPS, Nagorik Uddyog, BELA, Incidin Bangladesh, and CCDB. ALRD is hosting the secretariat of the forum. The WRF organized a National Water Rights Conference on 20-21 March 2016 with broader engagement likewise TIB, BAPA, and HDRC which is a culmination of 5 years’ effort of ALRD. This conference held at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh Auditorium in Farmgate, Dhaka. This two-day conference had four parallel sessions including inaugural and closing sessions where broader participation of the policy actors and other relevant stakeholder/s has been ensured. Twelve issues related to water in perspective of rights has been identified as key issue for discussions in different sessions focusing coastal, Haor, hill, and Barind region and trans-boundary issue. A total of 14 papers were presented in the conference which was participated by near about 500 people accommodated academicians, researchers, activists, journalists, CSOs, government representatives, lawmakers, politicians, grassroots movements like Kaptakhho Bachao Andolon, Beel Bachao Andolon, Burigonga Bachao Andolon, Adi Jamuna Bachao Andolon, Chalan beel Raksha Andolon etc. They recommended to enhance the communication of people to people.
In the inaugural session, Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud was the chief guest and special guests were AKM Fazlul Haque, member of the parliamentary standing committee on Water Resources Ministry; and Md Yasin Ali, member of the parliamentary standing committee on the Environment and Forests Ministry. A key note paper on “state and the legal recognition of water resources as human rights: certification, perspective and relevance” was presented by AKM Masud Ali, Executive Director of Incidin Bangladesh. The discussants were four grassroots representatives from the Barind, Coastal, Haor and Hill area. Chaired by Nijera Kori Coordinator Khushi Kabir, the inaugural session of the water conference was also addressed by and Dr. Abdul Matin, Bapa secretary general and Shamsul Huda, executive director of ALRD.
“Bangladesh is not getting its due share of waters from the Padma River flow as per an accord with India and experiencing a drastic fall in the water flow this dry season, said Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud. “Not only from the Padma, water flow of the Teesta River also drastically declined day by day. Last year Bangladesh got 1200-1300 Cusec of water but during dry season we get 355 Cusec of water on our part," added the Minister.
He also said the government is looking into the matter to identify the reasons for such sharp decline in the water flow of these rivers.
Terming the water problem 'a challenge' for the people of Barind and south-western part of the country, the Minister said once the proposed Ganges Barrage is implemented, such water problem will not exist in the Barind region. The Barind region covers Dinajpur, Rangpur, Pabna, Rajshahi and Bogra.
Four parallel sessions equally presented thirteen key note papers and documentary film was also showed with best practices of grassroots movement on protection of rivers. At the closing session, a declaration paper was made by the organizers while a set of recommendations came out from the parallel sessions also placed. An action plan with declaration and recommendations will be submitted to the minister.
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