GOING by newspaper reports and according to Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), the demarcation of Turag River was faulty. Consequently, the width of this crucial river has been narrowed. Environmentalists claim that 50 million square feet of water has been left out of demarcated area, whilst BIWTA states that this area may be even greater. The end result of such callousness is that in certain places, the width of the river has come down to about 100 feet. The work on placing demarcation pillars commenced in 2010 and it has cost the national exchequer Tk. 80 million. Allegations have arisen that the process did not follow court ruling of 2009 which had directed authorities to remove illegal structures and erect pillars.
Whatever may be the case, we are now faced with significant narrowing of the Turag River at various points. Again, though the High Court had directed that pillars be erected 150 feet away from riverbanks, this directive has largely been ignored. We understand that there has been disagreement among the various bodies on pillar erection sites. Amidst all this confusion, unscrupulous land grabbers are engaged in filling up the river, which amounts to an estimated 198 acres.
What is surprising to note is that BIWTA has a list of some of largest perpetrators engaged in land filling around newly-erected pillars. The question here is, why are the authorities dragging their feet on this issue? The piecemeal eviction drives concerned authorities conduct every now and then are obviously no answer to dealing with this menace.