Kalapara upazila administration during a drive on Saturday recovered about 50 acres of grabbed land near the Payra seaport.
Kalapara Assistant Commissioner (AC Land) Anup Das, also acting upazila nirbahi officer (UNO), said they recovered 50 acres of government land that were filled with sand.
A large stretch of the foreshore of the Andharmanik river in the upazila was being grabbed by a private company in a bid to set up factories there.
Sand was being dumped on a tract of about 80 acres, stretching from the under-construction Syed Nazrul Islam Bridge to the Payra Seaport, to raise the height of the foreshore. The work had been going on for the last one year.
Visiting the bridge construction site recently, this correspondent saw dumping of sand was going on. A signboard put up there claims the land is owned by X Index Economic Zone Ltd.
Locals said the company started putting sand on the foreshore in September last year.
Khalil Mir, who supervises the sand dumping activity, said the height of 80 acres of land has already been increased by eight feet.
Grabbing the foreshore of a river or a sea is illegal, said Lincoln Bayen, Barishal divisional coordinator of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (BELA).
Tiakhali Union Parishad Chairman Moshiur Rahman, who got the contract for dumping sand, said the company told him that they bought 80 acres and it showed him land documents.
“They also said they were planning to buy another 20 acres. So I was dumping sand on the land,” he told The Daily Star.
Asked if the foreshore of a river could be bought and sand could be dumped there, he kept mum.
“We have already talked to some locals to buy land. We hope we will be able to buy 65 acres from them,” Masudur Rahman, general manager of X Index Economic Zone Ltd, told this correspondent over phone on August 21.
He said they submitted a prayer to the local land office for taking lease of another 25 acres.
According to him, the company is involved in at least 18 types of business, including tiles and power production.
Sources at Kalapara upazila land office said there is very little private land along the banks of the Andharmanik river, stretching from Pyra Seaport and the under-construction Syed Nazrul Islam Bridge.
An influential group of people went to the land office to take lease of land in that area, but when they learnt that it was impossible to take lease of foreshore, they left the office, the sources added.
Kalapara AC Land Anup Das said none can dump sand on the foreshore of a river and start such an activity after submitting a prayer to the authorities (to take lease of government land).