THE government’s order for the relocation of 33 dockyards built, by influential quarters, illegally on the River Buriganga at Keraniganj in Dhaka is welcome. The shipping secretary on Monday said that the ministry had already asked the owners to relocate the dockyards in a year as they are polluting the river and choking the passage of Dhaka’s main river port Sadarghat. The dockyards have, as officials of the Directorate of Land Records and Survey, the National River Conservation Commission and the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority say, been developed over the years on the river land by influential people having links to the ruling quarters.
The National River Conservation Commission, which is preparing a survey report on the land use by the dockyards, is reported to have said, referring to land records and survey officials, that all the dockyards encroached on the land of the river. The commission is also reported to have verified the legal status of the dockyards with the deputy commissioner’s office of Dhaka, the Inland Water Transport Authority and the Directorate of Land Records and Survey. The commission’s chair asked the Dhaka district administration to give a report on two occasions in May. But the commission, unfortunately, has not received any such report. The district administration is, however, reported to have received on June 3 the opinion of the relevant assistant commissioner (land) who said that the dockyards were set up after obtaining licences from the Inland Water Transport Authority a director of which has, however, said that 16 of the dockyards had obtained licences to use the foreshore of the river. While the dockyards that pollute the river should in no way be allowed to stay there, the question as to whether the Inland Water Transport Authority should license the dockyards to use the river land remains. While the government and the River Conservation Commission should look into such licensing powers of the Inland Water Transport Authority, as the river that is public property cannot be privately owned, the government must see that the relocation of the dockyards takes place in a year.
The project for the relocation of tanneries from Hazaribagh in the heart to the capital to outlying areas was taken up in 2003 and it could be almost completed in 2017, with most of the tanneries moving their units at Leather Industry Estate at Savar, yet the relocation has not been completely effected. The fate of the order for the relocation of the dockyards from the River Buriganga must not face a similar long-drawn process that the tannery relocation faced towards its implementation.
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