Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper

River grabbers and polluters should not get impunity

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FOLLOWING the High Court order over protecting the rivers, the government has intensified eviction of encroachment in four rivers around the capital city. Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) on Tuesday knocked down 211 illegal structures, including one three-storey and five two-storey buildings built along the Buriganga at Ashrafabad in Kamrangirchar. With them, the BIWTA demolished 656 structures in the last four days. The river encroachers who erect structures on the bank of rivers have earned hefty influencing authorities concerned.
Some vested quarters set up mosques and orphanages on the riverside for safe encroachment. Eventually, they occupy the river land around the mosques and set up other structures, including markets and business establishments. On Tuesday, the BIWTA also did not touch two multi-storey mosques built on the Buriganga land. The BIWTA officials said every illegal structure could be demolished if the administration, judiciary and people remain supportive of the drive.
In Chattogram, the district administration demolished at least 30 structures along the Karnaphuli River. Another 40 structures were removed by the grabbers themselves on Monday. Most of the country's 450 rivers are in a dire stage due to same reason. In a 2009 judgment, the HC detailed measures to recover the ailing rivers of Dhaka from land grabbers and save them from pollution. At the time, the court ordered the administration to demarcate the boundary of the Buriganga, Shitalakkhya, Dhaleshwari, Turag and Balu. Demarcation pillars were set up along the river banks during the lean flow of dry season waterline, excluding some 2,500 acres of foreshores and wetlands of the five rivers.
Now, under a new project, the government will install some 12,000 demarcation pillars, replacing the old ones, along the rivers of Dhaka. The government is the trustee to protect the rivers from encroachers but it becomes nonchalant when some influential persons grab the rivers. The river grabbers and the polluters must be punished. 

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