The Bangladesh government has unveiled an ambitious $80 million plan to de-silt its 310 rivers that have not been dredged since the British era, to restore their navigability, control floods and ensure irrigation.
Water Resources Minister Ramesh Chandra Sen told the Jatiya Sangsad (national assembly) Tuesday that the government was in talks with India and Nepal, the upper riparian neighbours for greater water flow during the summer months.
The minister was part of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's team that held talks in New Delhi, when India offered to help in dredging and financial assistance.
Sen said four mega projects worth Taka 50 billion ($80 million approx) were being processed for approval.
The rivers were "in a sorry state", The Daily Star quoted him as saying Wednesday.
"Of the rivers, dredging work will begin very soon in four major rivers - Jamuna, Meghna, Brahmaputra and the Padma," the minister said, adding that once the dredging job is completed in these rivers, a number of small rivers will get its benefit.
He said the government has also taken up four short-term projects along with the mega projects to carry out dredging in rivers and to control floods.
Work on Gorai river has already begun and purchasing of five dredgers was under process.
Of them, the water resources ministry will purchase two while the shipping ministry will buy three. He said the two ministries have 45 dredgers but only seven of them are now operational. "We have made a move to repair some dredgers," he added.
During the question-answer session, a number of lawmakers said most of the rivers in their constituencies "are about to die and some of them are already dead".
They urged the minister to take immediate steps to revive the country's rivers and control floods.