Rajuk fills up Shitalakhya bank for housing scheme | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, September 16, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, September 16, 2009

Rajuk fills up Shitalakhya bank for housing scheme

Ignores WDB's objection; river width shrinks at Purbachal project point as govt itself violates rules

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Rajuk is filling a portion of the river Shitalakhya along its bank at Rupganj, Narayanganj for the Purbachal New Town Project.Photo: SK Enamul Haq

Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) has filled a portion of the Shitalakhya along the bank at Rupganj in Narayanganj for developing its Purbachal New Town Project.
On a recent visit to the project area it was seen that the Rajuk authorities filled up to 30-50 metres inside the river at the eastern side of the Kanchan Bridge.
The Water Development Board had drawn Rajuk's attention to the matter but Rajuk authorities did not seem to care much. The government later approved the project, which violates environmental laws.
Asked about WDB's objection, Rajuk's planning member AYM Golam Kibria said, "Yes, a few people raised the issue, but finally we got the government's approval." Kibria is now the acting chairman of Rajuk.
No existing law allows the government to fill rivers for any purpose.
Interestingly, on its website, Rajuk says the objective of the Purbachal Town Development Project is: "To maintain the balance of environment by proper Urbanisation. To create environment friendly and sustainable atmosphere." It also mentions that 5.7 percent of the total project area has been allocated for forest, eco park, green belt and urban green to maintain environmental balance.
In reality, however, the government agency has set an example of grabbing an important river.
Rajuk started filling the Shitalakhya from the Kanchan Bridge point where the river has taken a sharp bend. It is clearly visible from the bridge how the project is killing the river, violating environment law.
Two satellite images of the Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information System (CEGIS) show the river before and after the earth-filling activity in 2005 and 2006.
The images show that the much wider Shitalakhya of 2005 shrank in 2006 because of Rajuk's earth-filling activity in Shimulai union of Rupganj while its bank-line changed.
"The Water Development Board raised the issue to the Rajuk. We do not know what Rajuk did afterwards," said an official of CEGIS.
According to the laws on rivers and canals, up to 50 metres from where river water reaches during high tide is considered the riverbank. Bangladesh Water Development Board and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority are legally responsible to take care of this area.
Locals told The Daily Star that the Shitalakhya was a mighty river at Shimulia but it has now shrunk to half its former width.
The Purbachal New Town Project stretches from Shimulia up to Kaliganj upazila of Gazipur between the Balu and Shitalakhya rivers. Rajuk started the project in July 1995 and is supposed to finish it in 2012, developing 6,150 acres of lowland and wetland.
The total project area is divided into 30 sectors out of which 1, 2, 4, 11-14 and 17 have been completed, Rajuk officials said.
Talking to The Daily Star, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, executive director of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers' Association, said the government should announce the filled up portion of the project illegal and compel Rajuk to remove earth from there.
"If the government does not take any action against Rajuk's ill practice, it would not have any moral stand to tell people to obey the environment laws," she said.

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