A photo published in this paper’s front page on April 29 shows people still using a demolished building for residential purposes. The building in Chunaghat-Chawkbazar-Beribadh was demolished by the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) a month ago. With its crumbling roofs and caved in walls, the place is clearly not fit for living. That people are still residing there puts them at severe risk and is a disaster waiting to happen.
The buildings along the banks were demolished because they were illegal structures on occupied lands along the rivers—but does the BIWTA’s responsibility end with demolishing the structures? What of ensuring that they are not reoccupied? And people living in these buildings had been doing so for a while; so, why was no initiative taken to rehabilitate them? Because, while these structures were built illegally, the administration was complicit too; how else were these structures built in the first place?
We hope that the BIWTA follows up on their drive, with the help of law-enforcing officials if needed, to keep these buildings empty. The buildings should be completely torn down so that they cannot be reoccupied. And lastly, the concerns of the people must be taken into account. It should be obvious that no one would willingly put their lives at risk by living in these half-broken structures, unless they were left with no other choice. Rehabilitation initiatives for these people must be considered—ultimately, that would benefit not only them, but the rivers as well.