Nilphamari municipality has literally given up its endeavour to recover the land encroached on both sides of Bamondanga river, fearing a lengthy legal battle in the process.
The grabbers have occupied the riverbanks over the years, turning it into a narrow canal these days. They are now claiming that the encroached river lands actually belong to them.
Dewan Kamal Ahmed, mayor of Nilphamari municipality, said they had taken measures to save the river from the grabbers in 2007.
“To our astonishment, the encroachers showed us ownership documents of the land which we knew as part of the river,” he said.
“The grabbers in collaboration with a section of dishonest land officials might have recorded their names as owners of the river land. Complications might arise if we take steps to recover the river.”
While visiting the river recently, this correspondent found structures on both sides along the river at Palashbari, Dogachhi, Baroipara, Sarkarpara, Sabujpara, Itakhola and Kanial Khata.
An automatic rice mill was set up beside the Nilphamari-Ramganj road at Sarkarpara; an illegal plastic factory was also set up by encroaching on the riverbank in Sabujpara area near Anonda Babur Bridge.
Such illegal structures and business establishments have clogged 15-km stretch of the river in such a way that its breadth has been reduced to around 15 feet. Locals said the width was around 100 feet even 40 years back.
Claiming the documents of his land to be genuine, rice mill owner Azizul Islam said, “The officials in the district administration were satisfied while verifying the papers last year.”
Originating from Jamuneswari river near Palashbari village in Sadar upazila, the tributary fell into the same river at Bamondanga village flowing through the municipality.
As the earlier initiative to recover the river in 2007 failed, the municipality held a discussion with the grabbers last year, sources said.
As per the deal, the grabbers agreed to leave the encroached land to keep the river up to 40-feet wide for smooth flow of water.
But that bid also failed, as the encroachers again grabbed the land, taking the river back to its previous condition.
Jainal Abedin, chairman of Sadar upazila, said, “If we proceed to recover the river, it will end up in a lengthy legal battle.”
Contacted, Gullal Singh, additional district magistrate in Nilphamari, said they had started collecting information about all the rivers in the district including Bamondanga.
After analysing the information, they would come up with measures to evict the grabbers, he added.