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No respite from river grabbing

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Demarcation of Turag with pillars hardly makes an impact

The government signboard in the photo marks the boundary of the river Turag at Gabtoli in the capital but sand, coal and brick traders who occupy the river to conduct their businesses are still there. One of the concrete pillars marking the land of the river, inset, appears to be shabby, old and broken but the fact is it was installed last December. Photo: Palash Khan

A signboard fixed to a pole stands as the only visible proof of the government move to demarcate the Turag river area at Gabtoli.

It reads, “Installation of boundary pillars of the river implemented by the Dhaka district administration, the BIWTA and the Department of Public Works.”

Small boundary pillars put up to demarcate the river area can hardly be noticed amid piles of bricks, coal and sand, and toll collection booths with tin roofs.

Many of the pillars installed by Dhaka district administration have already got damaged. They were installed on December 21 last year.

Apart from the newly installed signboards and small pillars, very little has changed on the banks of the Turag river at Amin Bazar and Gabtoli.

Although the High Court in 2009 ordered the government to evict the encroachers and protect the river, sand and brick traders still occupy large portions of the river banks at Gabtoli and Amin Bazar.

River grabbing still goes on although the Department of Environment conducted several drives last year to demolish illegal settlements on the Turag river.

The Dhaka district administration has been installing boundary pillars from December 21 last year after demarcation of the river area at Gabtoli and Amin Bazar in line with the revisional settlement survey.

The administration will put up 8,067 boundary pillars along the 198 kilometre banks of the Turag, Buriganga and Balu rivers with an estimated Tk 15 crore.

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authorities (BIWTA) will build five kilometres of walkway on the banks of the Turag river in Gabtoli and Amin Bazar after installation of boundary pillars.

Janendra Nath Sarkar, additional deputy commissioner (revenue), said, “…We need six more months to complete installation of 8,000 pillars.” Once the administration finishes installing the pillars, none will be able to trade in sand or brick on the riverbanks, he said.

Sources said the government has installed pillars up to Botanical Garden in the upstream of the Turag but illegal occupation and filling up of the river continues.

Janendra Nath Sarkar told The Daily Star recently that they would send a mobile court to Gabtoli and Amin Bazar area soon to evict the traders from the riverbanks.

Rakibul Islam, superintending engineer of the BIWTA, said, “We will build a 3.8 kilometre walkway at Amin Bazar and a 1.2 kilometre walkway at Gabtoli.”

Referring to sand and brick trade on the river banks, he said, “We will designate some places for those businesses. Sand traders will not be allowed to do business outside those areas.”

The government is legally obligated to protect the river as the High Court in 2009 asked the deputy commissioners to demarcate four Dhaka rivers by putting up boundary pillars as per the cadastral survey and revisional settlement records.

Source : The Daily Star

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