Illegal establishments on the both banks of Karnaphuli River are yet to be evicted with authorities concerned taking no steps against the owners of the establishments despite High Court directives.
Local people said that encroachments and pollution continued causing sedimentation in and significant damage to the river as navigability and width of the river had already decreased.
A fishing boat market has expanded at Chaktai and Rajakhali parts of the river. Local influential people collect Tk 15-20 thousand in rent from the boat making spots, local sources said.
The river banks are filled with sand, bamboo and iron sheets. Open toilet and corrugated iron sheet-roofed houses have also been built for construction workers.
Bad odour of pitch-black thick water has made the air heavy at Firingee Bazar Bridge ghat road, Fishery ghat, New Chaktai road to Sadarghat.
The water continue to be polluted by wastes being dumped directly into the river by different types of small factories located at the river banks in Sadarghat, Kalibari, Hamdard, Stand Road, Majhir Ghat and Bangla Bazar areas as well as different industrial units at Chandra Ghona.
On January 21, the Chittagong deputy commissioner submitted to the High Court a list of 126 illegal structures on the Karnaphuli to comply with a court order issued in June 2016 after hearing a writ petition of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.
Petitioners’ lawyer Manzill Murshid said that he would seek another directive on the deputy commissioner to conduct a further survey to identify more illegal structures by demarking boundaries of the two canals.
Additional deputy commissioner (revenue) Md Delwar Hossain said that in November 2017, the Chittagong deputy commissioner in a letter to the land secretary sought allocation of Tk 1.20 crore for the eviction. On January 8, 2018, Chittagong district administration sent another letter to the land secretary for the allocation, said Delwar.
‘Now we are waiting for the fund. After getting the money we will go for publication of the list and eviction,’ he added.
State Acquisition wing officials of Chittagong DC office said that encroachers built nearly 2,181 illegal establishments on the two
banks of the river. As per RS record, 2,212 illegal establishments were identified in Bakolia and east Patenga areas. As per BS record, 60 illegal set ups were identified in Bakolia, Madarbari, Gosaildanga, Monohorkhali and Firigee Bazar areas. There were establishments on 158.45 acres land on the two banks of the river.
Following the writ petition, the High Court court on July 18, 2010 asked the Chittagong deputy commissioner to conduct a survey and submit a list of the illegal establishments.
The court also asked the district administration to demarcate the river and submit a report within six months. The administration began the work on November 9, 2010.
A seven-member committee submitted a report in November 2015 to the High Court which said that houses and shops made of corrugated iron-sheets, buildings, sand piles, colleges, mosques, madrassahs, apparel factories, poultry farms, temples, primary schools, charity hospitals and plastic factories were set up on the bank of the river.
On August 16, 2016 the High Court bench of Justice Md Rezaul Hasan and Justice Kashefa Hussain in a verdict directed the authorities concerned to evict 2,181 illegal establishments from the bank of the River Karnaphuli.
The court had asked Chittagong Development Authority secretary, Chittagong City Corporation chief executive officer and Chittagong deputy commissioner to publish notice in newspapers and notify the people concerned to shift the illegal establishments in 90 days. If they failed to remove the structures within the stipulated period, the court asked the Department of Environment, the police and district administration to dismantle them.
HRPB lawyer Manzill Murshid said that the concerned authority needed to take immediate measure to evict illegal occupants from the two banks of the river Karnaphuli.
Murshid said that the DC and police along with the respondents have been ordered to assist the eviction but they had not yet take initiative to evict illegal establishments.
A DoE survey in 2010 blamed 141 factories for effluent flowing into the river from the factories eventually threatening the river’s biodiversity.
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