30 structures need to be removed
A judicial probe report says 30 structures have been set up illegally along the foreshore of the Turag at different places in Gazipur and recommends knocking those down immediately to save the river from encroachment and pollution.
The report, recently submitted by the Gazipur chief judicial magistrate to the High Court through the Supreme Court registrar general's office, also suggested the river be dredged and dumping of waste into the water body be stopped to keep the river navigable.
Yesterday, the HC bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Mohammad Ullah set October 22 for holding hearing on the issue.
Following a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB), the HC bench on January 5 had directed the chief judicial magistrate to probe if illegal structures were built along the foreshore of the Turag and to submit a report before it.
HRPB lawyer Manzill Murshid, who received a copy of the probe report from the HC, said he would submit a petition to the court seeking its directives on the authorities concerned to demolish the illegal structures.
Citing the probe report, the lawyer told this correspondent that two government agencies installed demarcation pillars and built walkways along the river keeping empty area from the boundary of the Turag. This gave land grabbers scope to encroach on the river and to set up structures illegally.
The report contained the names of 30 organisations and individuals who built structures along the river.
They are Enon Tesk, Dr Faras Uddin University, Cordod Land Developer and Capt Zakir Hossain, Reaz Uddin, Protyasha Housing, Gazipur City Corporation, Nargis Aktar and Salah Uddin, Md Jahangir-Zipper Factory, Truck, Covered Van Drivers Union, Central Medical College, Yunus member, (Ananda Group) Jarina Textile, Sajid Washing of Hamim Group, Bishwa Ijtema, Shilpa Samparkito Shikkhayan, Tongi New Market (Masjid Market), Shah Alam and others, Moslem Sarkar, Mesbah Uddin Sarkar, Abdul Hye, Abu Taher, Giasuddin, Sobhan Sheikh, Luthfa Begum, Dolly Begum, Selim Sheikh, Fazlu Miah, Anwar Group, The Merchant Ltd and Packaging Factory and Textile Malik Iman Ali.
The rights organisation had filed the writ petition with the HC on November 7 last year, a day after The Daily Star ran a report under the headline “Time to declare Turag dead”.
The court on November 9 directed the government to stop earth-filling, encroachment and construction of structures along the foreshores of the Turag within 48 hours and to submit a report before it after complying with its order.
The HC also issued a rule upon the authorities concerned to explain why their inaction in stopping such activities should not be declared illegal.
A 2009 landmark HC judgment had detailed measures on how to recover the ailing rivers from land grabbers and save them from pollution. The court ordered the administration to demarcate the boundary of five dying Dhaka rivers -- the Buriganga, the Balu, the Turag, the Shitalakkhya and the Dhaleshwari.
This apparently turned out to be the “death warrant” for the rivers. Demarcation pillars were set up along the river banks during the lean flow of dry season waterline, excluding a roughly estimated 2,500 acres of foreshores and wetlands of the five rivers.
It lured hundreds of new grabbers into gobbling up river land with massive earth filling and indiscriminate structures.
The entire stretch of the foreshore wetlands of the Turag, between Dhour Bridge and Shinnirtek along the river embankment road across Birulia, had been filled up with sand dumped by dozens of dredgers round the clock.