13 establishments to be demolished along 4 river banks

A high-powered taskforce has earmarked 13 establishments along banks of 4 rivers in and around the capital to be demolished "immediately" as unauthorised structures built through encroachment of the streams, shipping minister Shahjahan Khan said today.

"We identified many illegal establishments developed through encroachment of the four rivers and we will demolish them in phases but we have decided to demolish the 13 structures immediately," he told newsmen at his office emerging from a meeting of the taskforce on restoring river navigability.

He added: "No one found involved in grabbing rivers will be spared and the rivers will be freed from all illegal encroachments in phases."

The minister did not identify the 13 illegal structures to evade legal obstacles but said all these were developed encroaching the Buriganga, Sitalakhhya, Balu and Turag rivers.

The task force comprising representatives of concerned ministries and organisaitons like navy and law enforcement agencies alongside lawmakers and non-government environmental watchdogs was constituted in 2010 under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's directives.

But the today's decision was taken at the 33rd meeting of the taskforce, which so far demolished a number of illegal structures along the four rivers and installed boundary pillars of the Buriganga and Shytalakya.

The meeting today decided to enforce a temporary ban on land development and construction works within 120 feet of the demarcation pillars until completion of a re-survey of the four rivers by the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).

"The government will issue a gazette notification in this regard (ban) soon," the minister said.

He said the meeting also decided to collect the original river boundary pillars design from the land ministry to be sent to the concerned deputy commissioners' offices in next one week for disposal of some disputes over the demarcation pillars.

Officials said 458 complaints were pending for disposal in DC offices against 4063 demarcation pillars.

The meeting decided to form a 'citizen committee' with participation of local eminent citizens for creating awareness among the people against the river encroachment, khan said.

Water Resources Minister Barrister Anisul Islam, Environment and Forests Minister Anwar Hossain Manju, Land Minister Shamsur Rahman Sherif, Sanjida Khanam MP, and high officials concerned of BIWTA were, among others, were present.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)