Demarcation of Dhaka Rivers: 2,000 pillars misplaced
A third of the 6,000 demarcation pillars on the Buriganga and the Turag were installed inside the rivers and they would be reinstalled in their correct positions after a district administration survey.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), custodian of the country's inland waterways, had the pillars installed in the wrong places over the past few years, causing four major rivers around Dhaka city to lose nearly 2,500 acres to land grabbers.
Yesterday, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, also the head of the national taskforce for monitoring the important rivers, during a spot visit told journalists that after the pillars had been installed in their correct positions, walkways and roads would be built to protect the rivers from land grabbers.
Shajahan was aware of the incorrect placement of pillars all along and there was a huge public outcry, but he did little at that time to correct this error, said officials concerned requesting not to be named.
According to them, land worth an estimated Tk 25,000 crore has been lost to grabbers due to the incorrect placement of the pillars. The damage to the environment was enormous, they added.
During the visit yesterday, Shajahan said they would return the river land to the rivers, no matter how powerful the land grabbers were.
He said they would take action if necessary against the grabbers and punish them.
“During the visit of the taskforce we found many spots where land was grabbed and we will start eviction drive soon.”
The shipping minister said that in many cases they had failed to conduct continuous drives against the grabbers due to the lack of manpower and equipment.
He said they were going to involve the Navy to reduce pollution and increase navigability of the rivers.
“We have already proposed that the Navy form a coordination committee in this regard, and a proposal is waiting for the Prime Minister Office's approval,” he said.
Responding to a question about the Buriganga second channel, the shipping minister said there were many structures in the channel which were constructed illegally. Mosques were built to protect the illegal structures from demolition.
“We will ask them to remove the structures or we will be compelled to remove those,” he said.
Housing and Public Works Minister Mosharraf Hossain accompanied Shajahan yesterday. He is also a member of the taskforce.
Mosharraf recommended the widening of the Turag, which is 180 feet to 200 feet. He said he would recommend that the BIWTA and the taskforce take the initiative and increase the width to 400-500 feet.
About the filling up of flood flow zones and other water bodies under Detail Area Plan (DAP), the housing minister said they would not allow anybody to fill up wetlands or flood flow zones and would take legal action against them.
“We will evict the housing projects that have been constructed without permission and by filling wetlands on the river foreshore,” said Mosharraf.
The taskforce found many spots where land grabbers were filling up the Buriganga and the Turag. Many pillars were seen under the river water.
The taskforce started their visit from Sadarghat and held a press briefing at Ashulia Landing Station.