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The Story of Cleaning the Heart of Barisal

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Jail Khal (canal), known as the Heart of Barisal was facing the problem of illegal encroachment, earth filling, and dumping of waste into its water body for many years. As a result the Khal (canal) became virtually unrecognisable as a  Khal (canal).

Against this backdrop, under the supervision of the district administration, nearly 40,000 people voluntarily took part in a rescue and decontamination campaign of Jail Khal on September 3, 2016.

Interestingly, even though the government led the initiative, a Facebook campaign in favour of this initiative was able to attract thousands to get involved.

In our country it is hard to find examples where a government-backed campaign via Facebook is able to engage thousands.

Therefore, in my opinion, the Barisal district administration has created a history!

The Jail Khal is 3.2 kilometres (3,200 metres) long – stretching from Nathullabad to Kirtonkhola River. This stretch has been divided into 30 points.  In total 30 groups were formed to work in this points. Each group was comprised of two freedom fighters, members from two NGOs, two government institutions, one educational institution, one cultural organisation, a voluntary institute, one councillor and five rover scouts in it.

Woman councillors were assigned to work with three groups while executive magistrates worked with five groups. Additional deputy commissioner/district magistrate were looking after 10 groups. Thirty boats and speedboats were used in this cleaning operation. Three mobile courts supervised the entire operation.  Five cleaning assistants of the city corporation were deployed for each of the 30 points.

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The programme was aimed to improve the environment of Barisal. And it was successfully completed with spontaneous participation of the members of public coupled with the social media platform – Facebook and Citizen Journalism involving the local youths.

The media along with the newly introduced Barisal FB TV broadcasted the campaign live. It has added a new dimension to the program.

This initiative is significant. There is a saying that our countrymen do not move an inch without any self-interest. However in this case, nearly 40,000 people have actively volunteered to tidy up the canal.

It clearly indicates endeavour for social welfare has not been diminished yet. If an issue could be brought at the forefront and people could be inspired properly than any impossible task could be turned into a possible task.

* The writer is the Deputy Commissioner of Barisal District Administration

2017-02-12

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