A LAUGHABLE EFFORT … A few workers try to wiggle iron rods while two small diggers find it difficult to reach the illegal wall an encroacher built in the river Turag. Such was the poor effort the BIWTA offered to recover the river near Kamarpara Bridge yesterday. The authorities did nothing while the occupier was building the structures. Photo: Rashed Shumon
The first day of a three-day eviction drive to make parts of the Turag river encroachment-free yesterday turned out to be another futile attempt due to lack of proper equipment and poor planning.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) along with Dhaka and Gazipur district administrations launched the drive following a July 24 High Court order in consequence of a news report headlined "Turag close to death" carried in this newspaper on July 12.
The authorities failed to mobilise some basic equipment to remove concrete structures and earth filling. At the same time, they could not bring in a tugboat to pull down reinforced concrete structures due to several low-height bridges across the river.
Saiful Islam, joint director of BIWTA, said they needed to bring a pontoon with a long reach excavator and a tugboat or a bulldozer to remove concrete walls, pillars and earth filling within the river. "But we could not mobilise those due to low-height bridges across the Turag and bulldozers due to marshy river foreshores," he said.
As per BIWTA rules, any bridge on the Turag must have a 30-foot vertical clearance underneath above the flood level of water for movement of watercraft, said Saiful, but Dhour Bridge has 10 feet, Tongi railway bridge and Kamarpara bridge each has 20 feet clearance.
The BIWTA demolishes a temporary shed a river grabber had built on the Turag yesterday while workers just bend the iron rods of a retention wall. Photo: Rashed Shumon
BIWTA engaged an excavator and a few labourers to remove massive earth filling and strong concrete retention walls built right in the middle of the river. They deployed another excavator and some labourers to remove an acre of land filling in the river nearby.
According to a BIWTA estimate, Dhaka Central International Medical College, a private medical college and hospital, has filled up at least six acres of river foreshores and bed to the north of Kamarpara Bridge in Machhimpur mouja under Turag police station.
Close to this site, Bangladesh Shaheed Smriti Foundation has built similar retention walls to protect more than half an acre of land filling in the river.
The illegal occupier had erected in the middle of the river. The BIWTA wading into the drive with inadequate workforce and improper equipment and left the spot with the job not done. Photo: Rashed Shumon
Labourers were seen struggling hard to bend down thick iron rods springing up above the walls, while the excavators only broke some bricks of the wall after hours of effort.
An excavator is meant for digging mud only.
The excavators, however, successfully pulled down two corrugated iron sheet sheds at the medical college site and a large number of bamboo poles fixed on the nearby sand piles which were set up for a cattle market.
Tofail Ahmed, executive magistrate of Gazipur, said, "We hope to get some gas cutter to cut the iron rods on the retention walls and some drill hammers to dismantle the walls tomorrow (today)."
Tofail said they would anyhow accomplish the job.
Morajee Deshai, executive magistrate of Dhaka, said it was really a futile attempt to demolish such reinforced concrete walls manually.
The owners of gas cutters and drill hammers are not interested in such a job, said Saiful Islam, but they were still trying to hire some.
One may recall that similar attempts to free the Turag several times before went in vain. On an average, around Tk 1 lakh is spent per day to carry out such drives.