Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Balu filled up for a ‘bridge’

Rajuk responsible, river custodian oblivious
Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) has filled up the Balu river at Mashkul in Khilkhet narrowing it down to nearly half its width for constructing a bridge.
This has choked the river to such an extent that two engine boats can hardly pass together through the point.
Rajuk has no approval from Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), the government agency for protecting the city rivers, for construction of the 108-metre bridge.
The project, aimed at connecting Rajuk’s Purbachal housing project in Rupganj with the capital, was taken up in 2008 and is expected to be completed by November next year.
During a visit to the site last week, this correspondent found that the Rajuk-hired firm — RP Udayan — has filled up around 30 feet into the river at Mashkul end and around 20 feet at Purbachal end with earth, logs and sacks of sand.
A BIWTA official said Rajuk sought their permission for the project but did not fulfil all the conditions including depositing Tk 15 lakh as security money, which is mandatory for getting the approval.
“So we didn’t approve the construction of the bridge,” he told The Daily Star requesting anonymity.
He added that BIWTA will send an official to “inspect” the site.
Nehar Kanti Bhattacharya, the project manager, said BIWTA has assured them of approving the construction on condition that there is a 30-metre gap between two pillars of the bridge.
“But we’ll keep around 43 metres open between two pillars,” claimed Nehar.
However, the total width of the river at present is less than 40 metres (appx 130 feet).
He termed the filling up of the river “temporary” and said the river will get back its original shape when the piling is done.
The Balu, flowing through the east of the capital, has become a dead river and lost navigability in recent years due to indiscriminate pollution and encroachment.
In 2005, the National Taskforce to Save Rivers recommended dredging the river to make it at least 100 metres wide as per the Cadastral Survey (CS) record. It also recommended demarcating its original area.
But the BIWTA dredged the river for making it only 50 metres wide. At some points, the river’s width is now being further narrowed down to 30 metres due to encroachment.
Rajuk, the city planner, also in 2006 filled up a portion of the riverbank to extend the area of its Purbachal housing project in violation of relevant laws.
Two satellite images collected by Centre for Environment and Geography Information System (CEGIS), a government agency, show the Rajuk move has shrunk the river significantly.
Rajuk also filled up the Dumni canal, a natural canal originating from the Balu, at Khilkhet. The canal runs through Dumni, Mashkul, Dhalna, Tolna, Khadaldia and Gajaria before rejoining the Balu.
In March this year, the Department of Environment ordered Rajuk to excavate the canal.

 

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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