Chattogram district administration has decided to launch an eviction drive on February 4 on illegal structures built occupying banks of both sides of Karnaphuli River, three years into a High Court order to do so.
The decision was taken from a meeting held at the conference room of Chattogram district administration yesterday.
Md Elias Hossen, deputy secretary of Chattogram district administration told The Daily Star that demarcation work and public announcements to vacate the illegal structures will begin from today. The programme was delayed due to a fund crunch, he had earlier said.
“Finally we have managed the fund, and will start work to rid the river of illegal settlements,” Elias said.
Advocate Manzill Murshid filed a writ petition on behalf of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh with the High Court in 2012, seeking an order for survey on how much land of the river was taken up by encroachers.
That same year, the HC ordered the district administration to conduct a survey and submit its findings to the court. The authorities detected at least 2,185 structures, and submitted the report to the court in 2016.
The High Court then ordered the district administration to remove all illegal structures within six months, but the authorities could not comply with the order in the last three years.
Manzill Murshid told The Daily Star that he was happy to learn of the development. “I hope the district administration won't bow down to any pressure, and will execute the order as given by the High Court,” he added.
Edris Ali, professor of Chemistry at Govt Hazi Mohammad Mohsin College and a researcher, said the eviction drive, if executed, will be a milestone in saving rivers.
“District administration should have a tough approach to remove the structures, no matter however influential the people who own the illegal settlements are,” he said.
He said the nation's economy revolves round the Karnaphuli river as the key port of the country lies at the estuary of the water body.
“The river is also a crucial part of the under-construction tunnel and outer ring road. If we don't save the river, the country's economy will die with it,” he added.