The district administration in Munshiganj violated law by leasing out a 12-acre foreshore and floodplains of the Meghna in Char Betagi, said National River Conservation Commission Chairman Muzibur Rahman Howlader.
A river under onslaught. An open defiance of a High Court order. And inept river custodians.
A team of soon-to-retire engineers and an administration official are leaving for the US and the UK on a two-week trip ostensibly to learn about digging canals, protecting river banks, restoring embankments, and dredging rivers, which they had been doing for over three decades.
What was once considered encroachment has become outright murder. But the seriousness of the crime has done little to deter a carnival of corruption plaguing river management.
The apex court in 2009 directed the government to demarcate the original territory of the four Dhaka rivers -- Buriganga, Turag, Balu Shitalakhya -- restore those rivers to their original state and protect them against grabbing and from pollution.
Over 95 percent of the structures under Rajuk’s jurisdiction were built without building approval, according to survey findings for the ongoing revision of the capital city’s Detailed Area Plan (DAP).
Despite tragic loss of lives and properties in repeated building disasters, the country’s national building code has been lying largely unimplemented for 26 years, getting obsolete in the absence of an enforcement authority, said leading professionals.
The deplorable conditions of the rivers around Dhaka city and elsewhere in the country due to encroachment and pollution are the result of inaction of the river custodians and their complicity with the grabbers for decades, National River Conservation Commission Chairman Muzibur Rahman Howlader has said.
The country’s rivers and canals in sixty districts are in distress with at least 45,148 grabbers identified, according to official lists so far prepared by the respective deputy commissioners and submitted to the National River Conservation Commission.
Repeated tragic deaths and loss of property in fire and building disasters in the capital could have been averted had the housing and public works ministry as the administrative authority held Rajuk duly accountable for its job, said serving and former top officials.
All river grabbing and pollution are criminal offences, the highest court in the country has declared in the full text of a landmark judgment.
The metro rail construction work on 8km of the capital’s key thoroughfares has made the chaotic traffic even worse, largely because steps have not been taken for better use of the narrowed down streets, experts and officials said.
A private dockyard company has been building two slipways in the Meghna river in Munshiganj’s Gazaria even after the National River Commission asked the firm to stop its work and free the river.
The National River Conservation Commission has warned that it would take legal actions against at least a dozen government authorities for their inaction to free the Meghna from grabbers if they do not act within seven days.
In an onslaught on the Meghna, a private ship-building company is constructing its shipyard’s slipways into the river at Meghnaghat in Sonargaon, but the river custodians are doing little to stop it.
While the 23-storey FR Tower on Kemal Ataturk Avenue has a foundation for 18 storeys, around a dozen other high rises on the same street are taller than permissible height but Rajuk has been silent about this all along, said government high officials.
Building and fire safety conditions in all the 1,818 high rises under Rajuk’s jurisdiction are scary, its chairman Md Abdur Rahman said yesterday.
Although Rajuk officials had no engineering plan to knock down the much-talked about BGMEA building on the capital's Begunbari canal, they went to the site yesterday heavily equipped with demolition machinery.
Violating the then building rules, Rajuk in December 1996 approved an 18-storey high-rise in Banani, where the FR Tower stands today.
Rajuk is approving commercial buildings in the residential areas of Gulshan and Banani with virtually no height limits and experts are calling it illegal and a recipe for disaster.
The Rajuk came to know about 12 years ago that the Faruque-Rupayan Tower was built in violation of the approved plan, but it remained silent for all these years.
Rajuk is set to turn land originally earmarked for education and environment preservation into commercial and business plots in its 6,227-acre Purbachal New Town project in the city's outskirts.
The next world war will be over water. And Bangladesh appears to be most oblivious of all amidst the grim global forecast.
The money spent on an expensive project like metro rail must be justified by ensuring it provides quality and optimum service to the public, said the country director of Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Old Dhaka will remain vulnerable to disasters like the ones in Nimtoli and Chawkbazar unless it undergoes redevelopment, say urban planners.
Nothing seems to scare away the river grabbers. Amid impassioned calls from the judiciary, environmentalists and the media to save the country's last surviving rivers, a private company is building two slipways in the Meghna river in Munshiganj.
Once the much-hyped metro rail starts operation between Uttara north and Agargaon later this year, it will not bring a significant change in Dhaka city's transport service unless it is integrated with conventional transport modes, experts said.
Once built two decades from now, the five metro rail lines costing around $27.6 billion would serve only 11.5 percent of city passengers, said experts citing the capital's transport master plan.
With the physical progress of the country's maiden 20km metro rail service already visible across the capital city, implementation of four more proposed metro lines is simultaneously going ahead as a measure for partially relieving the capital city of its perennial traffic congestion.
Two unsubstantiated lists of tribal refugees and internally-displaced persons have not only caused public outrage in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), but also an apprehension about security threat among the security forces.
Nasima Begum's three-month wait for returning to her homestead did not end in three decades leaving her with an abject life at a temporary cluster housing that best resembles a refugee camp.
A local teachers' association is building a multi-storey shopping centre on a Debottor (endowed) property of a century-old Hindu temple in Modhupur defying a court order.
It's another classic case of delay in project implementation and a whopping rise in the project cost in the process. The project for an extended 20.5km rapid bus service for mass transport between Gazipur and Shahjalal International Airport was taken up in 2012.
Three government authorities have asked the managing director of a private business conglomerate Unique Group to halt earth-filling of fertile agricultural lands in the name of a private Sonargaon Economic Zone on the river Meghna in Sonargaon Upazila.
The rapid bus service, much touted as a way to ease the capital's chronic traffic congestion, may be implemented only in part, and that too not before 2024, as arbitrarily built flyovers block its proposed route, said officials and transport experts.
Finally, after over seven years of toiling exercise of preparatory work, construction of the much-talked about 47-km Dhaka Elevated Expressway commenced formally on April 1, 2018.
Dhaka would not be deluged in 2018. This was the promise the local government minister made last year. But his words did not translate into action.
The massive tailback due to the construction of Fatehpur rail overpass on Dhaka-Chittagong highway in Feni over the past week was expected, said a leading traffic system expert. He noted that the work lacked a traffic management plan.
The woes of 12,000 villagers on the Meghna in Sonargaon are not likely to lessen despite the highest court's ban against damaging their ancestral agricultural land.
Years of public outcries, pledges of administration and the High Court's order had failed to save the natural canal Dumni Khal in the capital's outskirts.
The government in the last seven years has failed to issue the work order for the 47km Dhaka Elevated Expressway (DEE) even though its construction has been inaugurated twice.
The Victory Day morning of last year started like any other for the 85-year-old widow of a former Ispahani company director. She woke up, did her usual chores and had breakfast.
The natural Dumni canal that nourished local agriculture and ecology for decades on the city's eastern outskirts is now being filled up to make way for real estate development.
Residents of some parts of Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara in the capital have to bear the misery of dug-up trenches and muddy roads for another half a year thanks to an ongoing road and footpath improvement work.
No one knows when the trashcans on the pavement in front of the Navy headquarters in the capital were stolen, leaving just the metal frames where the bins used to hang.
Illegal and haphazard parking and other unauthorised occupation under almost all the flyovers in the capital are depriving people of the benefit of the elevated structures, said transport experts.
In the absence of modern treatment facilities, a cringe-worthy 80 percent of the capital's sewage goes directly into rivers and water bodies.
Calbayog -- a city in Samar province of the Philippines -- was recognised as the country's cleanest and second most peaceful city. The man behind this achievement was Mel Senen Sarmiento, the city's mayor from 2001 till 2010.
Seven years after the deadly chemical fire claiming 124 lives in Nimtoli, parts of densely-populated Old Dhaka still have extremely hazardous stocks of flammable chemicals without any safety measures whatsoever.
It was around 7:30am on a Wednesday. The street towards the Banani intersection from Mohakhali near the capital's Sainik Club was bustling with speedy vehicles. Pedestrians, including office-goers, schoolkids and garment workers, were hurrying along the pavement.
Over a thousand shopping malls and markets in the capital were built without mandatory fire-safety clearance and those are now posing a serious threat, said fire department top officials.
It was a foggy winter morning in Kandargaon village of Sonargaon. Elderly farmer Hashem Ali, wrapped in a shawl and a woollen cap on, was frantically wandering around his bed of paddy seedlings in the middle of the vast farmland on the Meghna in Narayanganj.
In the end, nobody would save the Turag river. Left at the mercy of ruthless land grabbers who continue to ravage one of Dhaka's lifelines, the river is only a shadow of its once mighty self.
Life and livelihood of elderly Nazimuddin Mollah of east Kandargaon in Sonargaon of Narayanganj is entirely dependent on his agricultural land.
Construction work of the first metro rail service in the capital begins today with an aim to open half of the 20km metro line by the end
The extended Moghbazar Flyover ramp near Sonargaon Hotel may make the already crammed street even more congested, according to an expert and project officials. Moreover, a 50-metre carriageway deck of the ramp, already built in front of the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (popularly known as the FDC) at a cost of around Tk 9.5 crore, would now have to be demolished, said a project official.
Annisul Huq and Sayeed Khokon took oath as mayors respectively of Dhaka North and South City Corporations on May 6 last year. They took over offices with serious pledges and commitments to bring about qualitative changes in delivering civic services.
Intermittent showers over the last few days have given the city residents a respite from dust pollution.