Drive to free Shitalakkhya from earth-filling continues
The joint team of water transport authority and Narayanganj district administration yesterday continued removing earth deposits from the filled-up portion of the river Shitalakkhya at Kanchpur.
The move, however, was criticised as there are allegations against the authorities on giving the illegal sand-traders a chance to take away their huge stockpiles conveniently.
The three-day drive to free the river from massive earth-filling at the very foot of Kanchpur Bridge and its adjacent areas began on Tuesday following a news report in The Daily Star.
It was aimed at removing earth from an area 200 feet wide and 700 feet long stretching from the BIWTA's Kanchpur Landing Station towards north in Shimrail mouja.
The unlicensed traders not only destroyed the river ecology and its navigable channel but also deprived the government of huge revenue by unloading and stacking construction materials illegally.
Locals alleged that instead of confiscating and auctioning the piles of sand and boulders as a penalty to the offenders, the authorities gave them the opportunity to safely take away their stocks from the excavation site.
Traders of construction materials have encroached on the river and reduced its width almost by half in Shimrail mouja in Shiddhirganj near the bridge.
Responding to a question, Md Saiful Islam, senior deputy director of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), said the decision for auction of construction materials lies with the executive magistrate, who led the drive.
“If any party expresses interest in buying sand through auction, the encroachers threaten them,” he said.
That is why the authorities could not arrange the auction, he added.
Md Jahirul Islam, executive magistrate, however, said that he would arrange an auction next week.
He also said that excavation work had priority over penalising the offenders.
The authorities conducted similar drives at the site ten to twelve times in the past and seized sand piles. At least three auctions were arranged with the seized materials, said official sources.
A powerful excavator and a small dredger were used with the existing excavator during yesterday's drive, said Saiful of BIWTA.
The earth deposits were loaded in bulkhead vessels and trucks to carry them away.
Members of Rapid Action Battalion and armed and regular police were on hand to maintain law and order.
The three-day drive ends today.