Wednesday, June 26, 2024

43 Dhaka canals grabbed

Task force hopes to reclaim only 13 canals
Encroachers have gobbled up 43 of the 54 canals that once crisscrossed through Dhaka city interconnecting the four rivers surrounding it, resulting in the destruction of almost the entire natural sewage system of the city.
Most of the land of the 43 canals has been registered as owned by individuals and public-sector agencies in different land surveys, particularly the Dhaka City Survey 1995–2009, leaving no sign that the land was once canal beds.
Even the authorities concerned have stopped hoping to reclaim all the canals.
The shipping minister, Shajahan Khan, who heads a task force to ensure navigability and natural flow of
all important rivers flowing around the capital city, said that the task force was expecting to reclaim only 13 out of the 43 canals as the rest of the canals have been developed beyond reclamation.
Large structures and establishments and even roads have been set up on the land after the filling-in of the canals over the period.
At least 191 officials and 9 settlement officers of the Dhaka Settlement Office were found involved in registering and recording land of the 43 canals in favour of 10,515 grabbers during the city survey.
The findings came from a report prepared by a committee formed on December 14, 2010 to identify officials involved in recording the canal beds in favour of private owners.
The committee on September 14 submitted its report to the reconstituted task force, led by Shajahan Khan, to ensure the navigability and natural flow of all important rivers including the Buriganga, the Turag, the Sitalakhya, and the around Dhaka.
‘By scrutinising the working volume, record, and maps of the survey department, the committee found proofs of recording land of 43 canals in favour of private owners during the metropolitan survey,’ reads the report.
The report, a copy of which was made available to New Age, mentions the names and addresses of the grabbers, the 191 officials who recorded the land in favour of private owners and public agencies for implementation of development projects during the city survey, and the 9 settlement officers who had been in charge of Dhaka Settlement Office during the survey period.
The committee in its report categorically held responsible mainly the 191 officials – hawlka officers, attestation officers, circle officers, objection officers, and appeal officers – as they were directly involved in recording the government land in favour of private owners and then the settlement officers of Dhaka who had served during the survey period.
Many of the officials have already either gone on retirement or transferred to other places with different tasks.
The report also has held responsible the deputy commissioner’s office of Dhaka, the main conservator of government property in the district, for its failure to prevent grabbing and then recording of the canal beds mostly as private property and thus destruction of the city’s age-old natural drainage system.
According to the report, the committee suggested assigning the director general of Land Survey and Record Department with taking disciplinary actions against the officials involved in recording of land of the 43 canals after holding hearings. It also recommended that the deputy commissioner of Dhaka should be tasked with taking legal steps to evict the grabbers of the land of the 43 canals.
The committee also questioned the necessity and validity of the city survey conducted on the basis of the revised survey that took long 25 years to complete in 1995, in which period a great many changes had taken place in the city landscape and its land ownership status.
Meanwhile, the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority has recently started demolishing the structures built in the grabbed land of a few canals.
About the 191 officials involved in recording canal beds in favour of private owners, Shajahan Khan said they had constituted a committee in this regard and soon the taskforce would take disciplinary measures against them following the recommendations of the committee.

Courtesy of New Age

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