4 city canals still under grabbers' grip
Dhaka district administration failed to recover city's four canals and file a single case against illegal housing projects occupying rivers during its month-long deadline ending in January. It however partially recovered one canal.
An inter-agency meeting of the administration decided to recover Devdholai (Kajlar Khal) in Demra, part of Ramchandrapur Khal out of Dhaka embankment, Baunia Khal (canal) in Uttara, Ulan Khal in Rampura and the main Kalyanpur Khal.
The canals are either grabbed by government agencies or private housing projects, as per findings of district administration's survey.
A High Court bench in June 2009, among other directions, directed authorities to free Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakhya rivers from various encroachments by November 30, 2010.
Later, the administration concerned obtained an extension of the deadline till May 30 this year.
At the meeting held at the end of December 2010, Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Dhaka Mohibul Haque instructed all assistant commissioners (land) concerned with the rivers to identify and inform him of the river grabbers with housing projects.
Assistant commissioner (land) of Keraniganj was instructed to place the list of land grabbers of Sobhadda Khal, which has been grabbed and recovered several times in the past.
But none of the assistant commissioners came up with the information though they held a similar meeting on February 13.
Asked on failure to file criminal cases against the river grabbers, the DC said, "District administration has to remain preoccupied with many other jobs."
According to officials concerned, two roads occupy Devdholai canal.
Habibur Rahman Mollah, local lawmaker of Demra, filled a stretch of the canal, four kilometre in length and 30 to 50 feet in width, for the construction of a road by Local Government Engineering Department. Dhaka Wasa owns this part of the canal for drainage of urban flood.
Habibur said the road occupies only several feet of the canal's width and was in the interest of the public.
Roads and Highways Department completely filled the other part, owned by Water Development Board, to build Dhaka-Narayanganj Road.
Regarding this canal, the DC said he placed the matter to the national taskforce on river and canal recovery on February 3 and they would instruct him for further developments. The part occupied by the road is irreversible, he added.
On the other hand, Ramchandrapur canal is occupied by different housing projects.
Nabinagar Housing occupies 1.7 acres of land, Sat Masjid Housing Ltd 72 decimals, Chandrima Housing 80 decimals, Ekota Housing 50 decimals, Dhaka Uddyan Housing 8 decimals and Basila Garden City and Future Housing Ltd 20 decimals each, he said.
Baitul Noor Jannat Jam-e Mosque also occupies 30 decimals while Mina Bazar 7 decimals, added Bashar.
Dhaka district administration served notices upon these grabbers with a February 10 deadline, he said.
Baunia canal has been acquired and filled up by Rajdhani Unnayan Katripakkha, said Abul Bashar Md Fakruzzaman, revenue deputy collector and executive magistrate of Dhaka.
The stretch of Ulan canal within Hatirjheel development project will be restored as part of the project, said Bashar.
However, during the deadline, the administration carried eviction drives and almost freed Kalyanpur main canal from illegal structures.
They also carried eviction drives in Turag River near Tongi Bridge to remove illegal structures and in Buriganga River in Mohammadpur to remove earth filling by sand traders.
Meanwhile, a mobile court led by Magistrate Bashar penalised three sand traders for earth filling in Turag River at Amin Bazar on February 3.
A joint team of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and Dhaka district administration also freed a stretch of Buriganga River foreshore in Lalbagh on February 14.