“সুজলা, সুফলা, শস্য-শ্যামলা” (Abundant with water and crops, green, and fertile) — that is how Bangladesh has been portrayed traditionally by its poets. That is also BEN’s vision of Bangladesh.
The flag of Bangladesh consists of a red circle in a green background. While the red signifies the blood of the martyrs through whose sacrifice the independent Bangladesh was achieved, the green represents the country’s environment.
Bangladesh is mostly a deltaic country, formed by the three mighty river systems, namely the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna. It is crisscrossed by the tributaries and distributaries of these rivers. The land is therefore green, full of water bodies, fertile, and abundant with crops. Even the hilly parts of the east are covered with forests. At least, that is how Bangladesh was until a few decades ago.
Unfortunately, As Bangladesh industrializes, its environment has witnessed serious deterioration. Its rivers and other surface water bodies are getting encroached and polluted. Its forests are shrinking. Its land is getting toxic. Bio-diversity is disappearing and open spaces are vanishing. Its once pristine villages are getting polluted and its cities are becoming inhabitable.
BEN sees a future Bangladesh where the processes of environmental deterioration have been stopped; the damage that has been done has been repaired, and the green Bangladesh with robust rivers and waterbodies has been restored. It wants to see a Bangladesh where the forests have been restored and cover about 25 percent of its area – as they should and once did. It wants to see a Bangladesh full of bio-diversity – both aquatic and land-based. It wants to see the rich cornucopia of the traditional varieties of Bangladesh’s crops and fish stock thriving again. It wants to see a healthy river system restored, offering its manifold benefits. It wants to see the connection between river channels and the floodplains restored, expanded, and deepened. It wants to see Bangladesh that has abandoned the current, wrong-headed Cordon Approach to rivers and has adopted the Open Approach – an approach that agrees with the terrain and tradition of the country.
BEN wants to see a Bangladesh where industrialization has been achieved not at the cost of environment but in harmony with the environment; where the material standard of living has improved without pollution spreading all around; where open spaces have been preserved; where people are educated, healthy, technologically advanced, and prosperous, yet cohabiting peacefully with other species of the nature; where land, water, and people have struck a right balance.
BEN wants to see a Bangladesh that would make the poet Jibanananda happy, if he could return to this land, as he longed to do so in his poems of the Rupashi Bangla (Bengal, the beautiful!). It wants to see a Bangladesh where the poet Rabindranath would again like to live and travel in a boat, day after day, and week after week, as he once did when he was supervising the Shilaidaha, Shahjadpur, and Patisar parts of his family’s zamindari. BEN would like to see a Bangladesh that would again inspire the poet Nazrul to compose songs addressing the waves of the River Padma under a starry night awash with moonlight!
That is BEN’s vision of Bangladesh of the future!