Kuakata Municipality Mayor Anwar Hossain has started excavation work on Kuakata beach in the name of beautification of a lake putting the 53-year-old embankment at extreme risk.
Meanwhile, the Water Development Board (WDB) has issued a notice to stop the work and the district administration has also started an investigation.
The beautification of the lake is being done just 200 meters east of Kuakata Zero Point (adjacent to the sea).
However, the Patuakhali district administration owns the site where the construction of the lake has started. That means it is government khas land.
Adjacent to the lake is a 53-year-old embankment. The dam was built on the shores of the sea in 1968 to protect the people of the area and agricultural land.
The excavation of the lake might endanger the embankment as it is being built on the slope of it. Due to this, the Water Development Board (WDB) fears that the embankment may be damaged by the strong tidal wave of the sea.
They sent an official letter to the Kuakata mayor on April 20 requesting that the digging of the lake be stopped.
Visiting the spot on Thursday, it was seen that the excavation work of the lake is almost finished. The surroundings have been filled with sand. Roads are being built on both sides of the lake. The concerned contractor is constructing a public toilet on the east side.
Kuakata Municipal unit Awami League president and former mayor Abdul Barek Mollah said, "It is the mayor's personal project. In order to undertake any development project of the municipality, it has to be done by maintaining the proper process and with the approval of the Ministry of Local Government. This was not done in the case of this project. Moreover, in order to implement the project on the government's khas land, the ownership of the land has to be brought in favor of the municipal authority from the concerned authority. There have been irregularities here."
Admitting that the project was not approved by the authority and no money was allocated, Kuakata Municipal Mayor Anwar Hossain said, "The work has been initiated to beautify the ghats, public toilets and the lake for the convenience of tourists. However, the cost of the beautification work will be adjusted from the annual development program (ADP). As the excavation work of the lake is likely to be disrupted during the onset of monsoon, the work of cutting the soil has already started. The official project will be approved later."
Asked about the allegation of irregularities, he said, "I am doing it in the public interest. There is no personal gain or loss for me. However, the work was stopped on the instructions of the WDB and the district administration," he also said.
Shawkat Iqbal Mehraj, sub-divisional engineer of Kalapara Circle of the WDB, said a letter was sent from WDB on April 20 to stop digging the lake. Because if the lake is excavated, there is a danger of flood, tidal wave, collapse of the embankment and loss of life and property of the people of this region.
Patuakhali Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) GM Sarfaraj said, "I saw the matter on the spot on Tuesday on the instructions from Deputy Commissioner (DC)." I have instructed to stop the excavation work of the lake. Municipal authorities cannot do any work on government land without approval."
"We are taking legal action," he said, adding that the municipal authorities would be served a show cause notice.