Bogura district administration and Water Development Board (WDB) for the third consecutive day yesterday continued their joint drive to remove illegal structures encroaching on the Karatoa river.
The joint team yesterday tore down six small structures including toilets built by Bogura municipality in Nataipara area of Bogura town, said Tomal Hossain, assistant commission (AC) of land in Bogura Sadar.
On Friday, they demolished 12 small structures in Bhatkandi area of the town, while on Thursday, the authorities dismantled nine small structures, including a water pumphouse built by the municipality, from the banks of the river in Maltinagar area, he added.
According to a survey conducted by the land office in Sadar upazila in February through March last year, at least 38 illegal structures of different sizes were constructed by encroaching on the river during the last 10 to 15 years.
On November 25 the same year, The Daily Star ran a report on the issue, headlined “Onslaught on Karatoa on: Wanton grabbing leaves the river on its death throes”.
On February 25, prior to launching the drive, the district administration had sent out notices to unlawful occupiers, asking them to remove their establishments, said AC (Land) Tomal.
During visits to the area, establishments belonging to many of the listed encroachers, however, were still found to be intact.
On Thursday, the first day of the drive, the authorities were forced to back down from removing a mosque in Maltinagar area as hundreds of locals including women and students from madrasas raised objection by taking position at the site.
Zillur Ramhan Pramanik, president of Maltinagar Baitul Hamd Jam'a Mosque, said some parts of the land where the mosque is built belong to private owners, while some parts of belong to the river.
Despite the fact, the structure of the mosque does not hinder the flow of the river, he said, adding that religious sentiment played a role when locals gathered to protect the mosque.
When contacted, Hasan Mahmud, executive engineer of WDB in Bogura, said they would take necessary action after verifying the claims made by the mosque authorities.
AC (Land) Tomal said according to CS (Cadastral Survey) map, the land, on with the building of the mosque is located, belongs to the river.
The drive will go on until all illegal structures are removed from the river, he added.
Ziaur Rahman, secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) in Bogura, said, “[Although] there are over a hundred illegal structures on the banks of the Karatoa river in Bogura Sadar upazila, the district administration's list only has [names of] 38 grabbers.”
Responding to the claim, AC (Land) Tomal said, “The list of grabbers we are following now is still incomplete. However, we are working on to prepare a comprehensive list of grabbers in Sadar upazila. It'll take another two months.”