Sunday, November 19, 2017 | ePaper

Authorities inactions helping grabber to destroy Kaptai Lake

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HUNDREDS of illegal structures have crept on Kaptai Lake over the past two decades, choking the country's biggest artificial lake and polluting its sweet water. Most of these structures have sprung up either on the water body or on the 'khas' state owned land around the lake without permission or approval from the authorities concerned.

Rangamati Municipal Authorities have so far approved 2,032 out of 17,587 holdings, most of which are on the Lake. With an area of 725 square kilometres, the Lake was created in the 1960s as a result of the construction of Kaptai Dam under Kaptai Hydroelectric Power Project.

Besides hotels, motels, dwelling houses and business establishments, a large number of slums have also been set up occupying the Lake over past two decades. As the illegal occupiers dump wastes directly in the Lake, water pollution is taking place in the water-body. Five-Star Hotel Sufia International has been built occupying the Lake, with two-thirds of the hotel well into the water-body. Next to it, Hotel Changhai International has also been constructed on the Lake.

District Bazar Fund authority and District Administration are the authorities which deal with land settlement in the town. The municipal authorities claim that they had prepared a list of illegal structures after the Deputy Commissioner's Office asked them to prepare it and submitted it to the DC Office three months ago. The Municipal Authorities did not give any approval for constructing house or building on khas or unrecorded land, claimed the Mayor. The DC stated, astonishingly, that people who were grabbers could not be evicted overnight.

Such words by the DC remain the main reason why Kaptai Lake has become a haven for grabbers. They know that the local authorities will turn a blind-eye to their activities. This gives the existing and new grabbers full freedom to go on grabbing to destroy the natural and scenic beauty of this huge artificial Lake. Such grabbers are also destroying the ecological balance of the area by polluting the water and making it unfit for even fish farming. This is a tragedy as it is one of the major sources for sweet water fish in Bangladesh -- the people who eat fishes from it are likely to suffer from various diseases including job displacement.

It is simply unacceptable that the Kaptai Lake is being subjected to such ill use -- the Lake was constructed on almost 40 percent of the Hill Tracts agricultural land for the benefit of all, but illegal encroachments are destroying what splendour it has left. If such encroachments continue it will also destroy the capacity of the hydro electricity plant to produce clean electrical power -- a major loss to the nation. Before that happens it must be stopped.

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