A 0.81-acre water body owned by Bangladesh Railway (BR) under Niamotpur Mouja of Saidpur municipality is being filled up illegally to turn it into an eidgah.
Surprisingly though, local lawmaker Shawkat Chowdhury, also opposition Jatiya Party whip in parliament, inaugurated the work on June 14.
Saidpur municipality Mayor Amzad Hossain Sarkar informed in writing the ministries of environment and railway of the matter, and requested steps to stop the filling work.
Mostaq Ahmed, divisional estate officer of BR Pakshi division, also informed the higher authorities of the matter.
Consequently, the parliamentary committee on railway discussed the matter last week and asked the authorities of the ministry concerned to submit a report after investigation, said the BR official.
The water body known as Jorapukur would be worth around Tk 10 crore, sources said.
"Railway authorities leased the water body to one Harun ur Rashid for fish cultivation. But lawmaker and whip Shawkat Chowdhury inaugurated the filling of the water body on June 14," said Ohidun Nabi, assistant estate officer of BR in Saidpur.
"The next day, I went to the spot to forbid the illegal filling but Akhtar Hossain Feku, councillor of concerned ward No–5 of Saidpur municipality, who was supervising the work, rudely asked me to leave. I lodged a general diary with Saidpur police station,” he said.
Lessee Harun ur Rashid said the whip encouraged some locals to occupy the leased water body from his possession and fill it illegally.
Visiting the site on Saturday, this correspondent found that earth-filing was going on in presence of councillor Akhtar Hossain.
A brick-built pillar in front of the water body had a plaque with Bangla inscriptions that means, 'Munshipara-Khejurbagh Eidgah Maidan, foundation stone laid by honourable parliament member of Nilphamari-4 constituency and whip of the opposition Alhaj Md Shawkat Chowdhury on 14 June 2014.'
Akhtar Hossain said, "Lawmaker Shawkat Chowdhury inaugurated the earth-filling work in presence of two local leaders of ruling Awami League. It is a demand of people of ward No-5 and 6 to have an eidgah here. Not a water body, but a dirty ditch, also a mosquito breeding gropund, is being filled up for the purpose."
Contacted, lawmaker Shawkat Chowdhury said, "I am committed to meeting popular demand. It is true that the parliamentary committee discussed the filing up of the water body. I met the railway minister and discussed the matter.”