Encroachers filling up Gulshan-Banani lake | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 28, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 28, 2009

Encroachers filling up Gulshan-Banani lake


Encroachers filling up Gulshan-Baridhara-Banani Lake at two points--one near Mariam Tower-1, left, and another at Karail, claiming to have plots in the water body, in gross violation of the Wetland Conservation Act.Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain

A group of influential people have started encroaching upon the Gulshan-Baridhara-Banani Lake just after this government assumed power, taking advantage of the slack stance of authorities concerned.
Filling of the lake at Shahjahadpur Jheelpar, between Mariam Tower-1 and Gulshan-Shahjahadpur link road, has been going on for last two months in violation of the Wetland Conservation Act, 2000.
FM Abdul Haq Bhuiyan and his mother-in-law Sufia Begum have been filling an eight-katha piece of land on the Gulshan-Banani Lake at Karail (T&T colony) point for a month.
"The lake is identified as a lake in the Dhaka Metropolitan Development Plan (DMDP) and the layout of the lake is in accordance with Wetland Conservation Act," said Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) Town Planner Abu Hasan Mortuza adding, "Filling of the lake is illegal."
He said it is identified as a lake as it is inundated during the monsoon season.
Abdul Haq said, "It is not a lake, it is just a lowland under several feet of water." He claimed he is the owner of a piece of land there and he purchased it in 1983.
Mortuza said project director (PD) of the lake development and conservation is primarily responsible for the protection of the lake.
But PD Zahid Hasan Faruqy said he had nothing to do with the filling of the lake.
Rajuk Chairman Shafiqul Islam said they regularly file cases against filling of wetlands. "If needed, I will ask the PD to take further actions," Shafiqul said.
As many as 20 people, including real estate developers, an High Court (HC) judge, retired government officials, brother of a local ward councillor and an army officer, claimed ownerships of land at Jheelpar.
Bhuiyan claimed, "We are not filling a wetland, we are just developing a low-lying land. It is not a lake, it is a sewer."
Justice Abu Tarikh, an HC judge, also claimed himself as the owner of the land and said, "If it is a part of the lake, the government can take it through due process."
They said the site was a part of an acquired property under LA case-138 in 1961. The government de-requisitioned it in 1992 without any gazette notification.
Haider Hossain of Ayub Properties said he bought a 10-katha piece of land in 1986. He claimed he had a deed. On how he obtained ownership of the land when the property was an acquired land, Haider said, "It is too a difficult question to answer…how did the government authorities concerned approve such document?"
Former chairman of the then Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) Fazlur Rahman and his wife Shamim Rahman said they have a deed of the land, which was made in 1983.
Tarafdar Rabiul Islam, a former UN official, said he bought a 10-katha piece of land in 1990. One Azizur Rahman Molla claimed he owned a 5-katha piece of land since 1986.
Monir Hossain, brother of Dhaka City Corporation ward councillor Anwar Hossain, claimed he owned a 4-katha piece of land there.
All the claimants said they have registered deeds, mutation records and tax receipts.
HC lawyer Tanjib-ul-Alam of Dr Kamal Hossain and Associates, however, said deeds made before de-requisition of land have no legal validity at all. De-requisition too has to be gazetted, he added.
The Supreme Court, earlier, in a judgment directed Rajuk to demarcate the lake, acquire required land for conservation and maintain a certified layout of the lake.
Rajuk under its Tk-327.15 crore lake project proposed Tk 297.42 crore for land acquisition.
The Planning Commission of the planning ministry a couple of months back agreed that government would provide half of the project cost and Rajuk would provide the rest.
Office of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Dhaka will settle the claims over land once acquisition proposal is finalised, said an official.

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