12:00 AM, December 09, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 09, 2012

School becomes plaything as rivals vie for control

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Sohrab Hossain, Patuakhai

The house of Rajganj-Chandukhali Government Primary School in Dumki upazila under Patuakhali district remains highly vulnerable to erosion by the Piara River while tug of war between two groups of locals centring site selection stands in the way to construction of a new building for the century-old school, also the lone one in Rajganj village. Photo: STAR

Construction of a new building for a century-old primary school in Dumki upazila under the district is hanging in the balance due to dispute among two groups of locals over site selection.
Three months ago, Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) finalised tender process for building a cyclone shelter-cum-school to accommodate Rajganj-Chandukhali Government Primary School that faces erosion of Paira River.
But the authorities could not issue work order for the Tk 56 lakh work due to dispute among villagers, said Md Fuad Hasan, upazila engineer for LGED.
With the help of locals, farmer Tufan Mollah set up Rajganj-Chandukhali Primary School on 0.41 acres of land donated by him at Rajganj village in Pangashia union of Dumki upazila, and later the school, the lone one in the village, became nationalised, school sources said.
To save from erosion, the school had to be shifted eight times and Tufan Mollah's heirs including Basok Mollah, Osman Mollah and Alauddin Mollah gave lands for the purpose. Lastly the schoolhouse was set up on the land donated by Alauddin Mollah in 1988.
The school again required shifting due to erosion by the Paira River, and in March this year, Fazlul Haque Akon, Majed Akon, Abdul Hadi Akon, Abdur Rob Akon -- all relatives of Alauddin Mollah, donated 0.33 acres of land at Rajganj village, about 1.5 km inside the flood control embankment.
Dumki upazila parishad Chairman Harun-or-Rashid Howlader, and Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md Asaduzzaman, and other officials concerned approved the new site and LGED called tender to build a cyclone shelter-cum-school building there.
But a group of locals led by Abdur Rashid Gazi, chairman of the school managing committee, wanted to build the schoolhouse at nearby Dakkhin Pangashia village.
"We set up the school on our land but now a gang led by Rashid Gazi want to shift it to another village. They often threaten us over the matter. On November 10, they attacked my son Sohel when he was returning home. The gang also filed a false case against Sohel and our family members," Alauddin said.
Rashid Gazi refuted the allegations and said, "I have no personal interest in the matter. I want to set up the school building at a safer place."
Asked by Upazila Education Officer Mollah Bakhtiar Uddin, local union parishad Chairman Gazi Nazrum Islam arranged shalish (local arbitration) among villagers but the two groups failed to reach a consensus on the issue.
Dumki UNO Sabbir Ahmad said, "I have formed a six-member local committee to settle the matter. If the committee fail to reach a solution, we will take lawful action against those who would create obstacle to the construction work."

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