BIWTA making ‘eco park’ filling Turag
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has taken initiatives to set up multiple eco-parks by filling the Turag in the capital.
Around one and a half kilometres stretch of the river, between Gabtoli and Sinnirtek areas, would be affected once the projects are implemented.
Such initiatives of the government body that is responsible for the development and maintenance of waterways, BIWTA, have sparked criticism.
According to sources, BIWTA has conducted frequent drives to evict illegal structures but has never taken measures to excavate the riverbanks. As a result, the syndicates occupy and rebuild structures on the riverbanks again.
However, the authorities never attempted to build structures occupying riverbanks themselves before, the sources added.
Contacted, BIWTA Executive Engineer Motiul Islam, who is also the deputy chief director of the Circular Waterway Project, said that construction projects were already undergoing in Borobazar, Jahanabad, Diabari and Sinnirtek areas.
"The government could not find a better place anywhere else to build the eco-parks. Thus, these places have been selected."
During a recent visit, this correspondent found signboards in Borobazar, Jahanabad, Diabari and Sinnirtek areas inscribing that eco-parks would be constructed there.
Meanwhile, BIWTA has already started filling the Turag near Sinnirtek landing station. The authorities dumped soil around 50 feet inside the river's boundary demarcation mark.
The space between the river boundary pillar 3 to 9 in Mirpur's Borobazar, one of the major business hubs in the capital, has also been selected for constructing an eco-park.
BIWTA has already fenced up the area with tin and different types of construction equipment have already been brought there.
In Diabari, an eco-park would be set up behind a mosque on the riverbank where the Turag has taken a V-shaped bent.
The river has become narrowed at this point due to filling the bank illegally.
In another spot in Palpara-Jahanabad area, the riverbank was filled up illegally up to 100 feet inside the river boundary demarcation pillars.
Environmentalist Nazrul Islam, former professor of the Department of Geography and Environment at Dhaka University, said the decision of constructing structures inside the river boundary demarcation pillar is irrational.
Contacted, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) General Secretary Sharif Jamil termed the initiative "ill-motivated".
River grabbing has been going on in the name of different development projects.
"It is a mater of regret that a government body that is responsible for protecting rivers, now itself grabbing riverbanks," he said.
He also demanded the cancellation of such projects and taking immediate measures to excavate riverbanks.
Paribesh Bachao Andolan Chairman Abu Naser Khan said such initiatives would cause severe environmental degradation in the capital and its surrounding areas.
The Turag is one of the rivers that hold rainwater. If it gets narrowed, it would not be able to hold excessive rainwater. As a result, the river may overflow and cause waterlogging in the capital, he viewed.
A large number of cargo vessels ply through this river channel. If it is narrowed, operations of water transports may face trouble. It may affect trade and business in this area, Khan added.