The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has torn down 444 illegal structures in the last three days in its 11-day eviction drive to free river banks from encroachment. The BIWTA executive magistrate has jailed two persons for three months. The accused had set up sawmills after filling up river banks.
The authorities are now planning to construct 50km long walkways, three amusement parks, 12 recreation centres and 19 jetties on river banks reclaimed after eviction. Locally influential people and land grabbers have built several illegal structures, occupying major portion of the banks of the Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Dhaleswari rivers. Many of these people are running illegal businesses by setting up saw-mills, factories and stores of bricks, stones and sand on the encroached areas in the absence of strong monitoring.
Besides, many multi-storied buildings are also being constructed after grabbing river banks, according to sources. Against this backdrop, the BIWTA started its eviction drive on Tuesday, and it will continue till February 19. “The city dwellers have no open space for inhaling fresh air. The BIWTA has taken the initiative as per the Prime Minister’s directive to free the river banks from encroachment, so that people can breathe fresh air standing beside the city rivers,” BIWTA chairman Commodore Mohammad Mozammel Haque told The Independent yesterday (Thursday).
A 3.5km long walkway project has been taken up in Kamrangirchar and Kholamora areas, the chairman said. Dishonest people won’t be able to encroach upon riverbanks once the walkways are completed, he added.
“We will construct three parks at Ashulia, Shinnirtek and Tongi on reclaimed river banks. These parks will be given to private companies through open tenders. Besides, we will construct 19 jetties at different points alongside the city rivers,” he said in reply to a query.
The BIWTA chairman said they would construct 12 recreational centres, including gardens, along the riverbanks at Babubazar, Basila and Tongi.
“The eviction drive is a tough job. Many influential people are involved in grabbing riverbanks. Besides, many government organisations have set up offices after filling up riverbanks. The eviction drive is a continuous process,” Haque said.
According to the BIWTA chairman, 50km long walkways will be constructed to protect the city rivers from encroachment. The executive magistrate of the BIWTA, Mostafizur Rahman, said they have removed 444 illegal structures, including 7-storeyed residential buildings, in the last three days.
“Two persons, Rustom and Mostafiz, owners of sawmills, have been jailed for three months. They were running their mills illegally after filling up river banks,” the magistrate said.
According to a BIWTA source, it has prepared a list of 1,000 structures that have been built on the river banks illegally. Around 10,000 illegal structures have been removed from river banks in the last few years, the source added.