Thursday, December 7, 2023

Shady realtors choke Turag

DoE finds 4 companies responsible for earth filling in the river
Neither the local administration nor the relevant authorities stopped the massive destruction of the river Turag, its foreshores and adjoining wetlands with mindless earth-filling by a number of private housing companies to develop plots choking the river almost by half at Goran Chat Bari in Mirpur.
An enforcement team of Department of Environment (DoE) during a drive at the site spotted the nuisance committed by at least four illegal private housing projects, including Star Housing beside Dhaka embankment.
Another realtor developed a project, locally known as SP Sahib’s project, by freshly filling up the river bed and foreshores along the same alignment of Star Housing.
There is also Didar’s project adjacent to Tamanna Family World amusement park.
Director of DoE Muhammad Munir Chowdhury led the drive to save the riverine environment. Custodian of river ports and channels, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) assisted the drive.
The encroachers not only filled up the river bed and its foreshores, but also destroyed the marine ecology and biodiversity in the area and caused massive pollution, noted Munir.
He termed it an unmindful killing of a river. “I am trying to save the river environment only, but it is the foremost duty of BIWTA to save the river itself.”
The owner of Star Housing project alone has earth-filled at least 10,000 square-foot of the river bed and 60,000 square-foot of the foreshores, mentioned BIWTA officials.
Golam Faruq Panna, managing director of Star Housing, admitted he has earth-filled two acres of land on the river bed and foreshores at a cost of Tk 40 lakh during the last two years.
“So far none has asked me to stop the work,” he told The Daily Star adding, he neither had permission from Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkhya (Rajuk) nor DoE or the BIWTA licence for earth-filling.
Md Sharif Afzal Hossain, Dhaka river port (Sadarghat) officer and deputy director of BIWTA, however, claimed he served notices upon all the river encroachers and filed cases with Shah Ali Police Station at Mirpur, which yielded no effective result.
According to BIWTA records, it served notice on Golam Faruq on March 3 and filed a case against him on the 28th.
The realtor has in fact earth-filled an area of around five acres with 20 lakh cubic foot of sand and reportedly sold out plots and finally disappeared, said Munir Chowdhury.
The enforcement team excavated a portion of the filled-up area and piled it up throughout yesterday. It would take at least a week to clear off the earth, he added.
Police have filed charge sheet against four accused including Faruq, said Md Anisur Rahman, officer-in-charge of Shah Ali Police Station.
The law enforcers could not arrest the accused as they have been absconding, added the OC.
Asked why BIWTA could not stop the encroachment at an initial stage, Sharif Afzal attributed it to non-cooperation of police.
“We had to wait for the rainy season to mobilise the equipment like tugboat, pontoon and excavator to the site,” he added.
A signboard of Akij Group at the site claims 75 decimals of land next to Star Housing on the wetland lying between the embankment and river foreshores.
Contacted over the phone, Finance Manager Abul Islam of the company said they would develop plots for a housing project for their officials.
But later he mentioned it would not be possible because the land is earmarked as a flood-flow zone in the Detailed Area Plan (DAP) of the capital.
“We will go on with the project in case the government permits,” he added.


Courtesy of The Daily Star

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