We are appalled by the shameless actions of the mayor of Cox’s Bazar municipality, who is also the general secretary of the ruling Awami League in the district. According to a report by this daily published yesterday, structures built by him encroached on the Bakkhali River, and a huge amount of garbage is being dumped into the river every day on his instructions. Shockingly, he also happens to be a member of the river conservation committee formed by the district administration. Which is why we must ask the conservation committee: how exactly does it expect this man to save a river that he is primarily responsible for slowly killing?
In 2014, the man in question was named on a Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority’s (BIWTA) list of 52 people who encroached on the Bakkhali. Surprisingly, his name was not included in the Cox’s Bazar district administration’s list of river grabbers prepared in 2015, despite the fact that he built a number of shacks and a warehouse grabbing parts of the Bakkhali in the town’s Natun Baharchhora area over the last 10 years. Does his exclusion have anything to do with the fact that he is politically well-connected? After all, that is reportedly why BIWTA failed to reclaim the encroached banks from him in order to construct a river port that it was supposed to do in 2014, when it prepared the list of encroachers.
And what we must also ask is, why during this entire time did the river conservation committee not take any action against him? Surely a committee with him on it will be completely ineffective at conserving the Bakkhali—is that not obvious to the committee?
This is a perfect example of how a politically well-connected, corrupt individual has made an entire district committee useless. As a result, a river is dying which will surely have grave repercussions for the environment and a large number of people. It is about time the authorities took action against this man whose greed seems to know no bounds.