CTG Port Authority’s recovery of Laldia Char passes without incident

The Chittagong Port Authority has taken back the last 52 acres of Laldia Char in Patenga after over 2300 families residing there without legal ownership of the land left in advance of a deadline announced earlier by the CPA, which was obeying a court order. It was a much more cordial occasion than most eviction drives witnessed in the capital, that often take place without warning.

The eviction drive, that was announced for Monday, March 1 well in advance and clearly communicated to the residents, was hardly noticeable in the end, passing without any untoward incident.

The 52 acres recovered today was cordoned off with barbed wire. Laldiar Char would now be used for a multipurpose terminal.

Most of the residents of the area were moved there by the newly independent Bangladesh's government in 1972 from their original residences in nearby Patenga, where the Port City's airport was being expanded. But they never gained legal ownership of the land, which was purchased for CPA in 1935.

Many residents voluntarily relocated in the last few days since the eviction was announced. Residents who were waiting until the last minute to see if the eviction could be stopped started leaving their homes on their own initiative this morning. Many people sold off furniture for a nominal price. Some have been seen sitting helpless with luggage due to lack of rickshaws, vans and trucks.

In the morning, the executive magistrate of the port, the magistrate of the district administration and senior officials of the port visited the char area of Laldia. A large number of RAB, police and Ansar members were deployed before the eviction.

Port authorities said mosques, primary schools and cemeteries would be excluded from the eviction.

Rear Admiral M Shahjahan, chairman of the port authority, held a press conference in the morning at the Patenga Boat Club during the eviction.

He said, “The port authority owns the Laldia Char site in Chittagong. Now we need the place for backup of PCT (Patenga Container Terminal). We have already evicted 26 acres before. Today we recover 52 acres of land.

"We have encouraged residents to leave voluntarily. As promised, 90 percent has gone. There is no need to apply force. We will fence our area so that no one can occupy it, he added.

Regarding their rehabilitation, the port chairman said, "The government arranges rehabilitation for the grassroots through the deputy commissioner in case of eviction of illegal occupants." We have sent a list to help them. "

The High Court directed the Chittagong Port Authority to evict the illegal establishment from Karnafuli Laldiar Char in Patenga in the light of the writ filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (Writ No. 6306/10).

A virtual high court bench comprising Justice Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Mohammad Ali ordered eviction of illegal structures from Laldia Char in the port area of Karnafuli river bank within the next two months on December 8.

Chittagong Police Commissioner, DC, RAB Commander, CDA Chairman and City Corporation Administrator have been named as defendants in the case. Lawyer Manzil Morshed appeared in favour of the writ petition. On the other hand, lawyer Murad Reza appeared for the Chittagong Port Authority.

Source: United News of Bangladesh