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Dhaka Tribune

Dhaka Zoo left open to encroachment

Update : 30 Apr 2013, 06:17 AM

The Dhaka Zoo authority has yet to finalise land demarcation for the zoo, seven months after directives to do so were passed by the parliamentary standing committee of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.

The failure of the authority to complete the demarcation and examine the papers presented by the self-declared land owners has made the recovery of two hectares of land, worth Tk3bn, uncertain.

According to the zoo, the delay was caused by a stay order from the High Court; the order has now been lifted, and the process could be started as soon as possible.

In August last year, the committee directed the authority to demark the boundary, recover illegally occupied land and build boundary walls within a month.

“Because of cases filed by the occupants, we are yet to finalise the demarcation and recover the land. We are also seeking coordination and support from the district magistracy. However, we are not getting proper support from them,” the estate officer of Dhaka Zoo, Asim Kumar Dey, told the Dhaka Tribune.

He went on: “The court has already dismissed two cases from Babul Talukdar and Moktar Hossain Talukdar and their associates, who hold at least 0.8 hectares of the two hectares of land at Bishil Mouja near the Shah Ali police station. We will start recovering the land from the occupants soon.”

According to officials involved in the process, the committee also formed a tripartite committee led by Md Jasmin Uddin, the executive magistrate of the Dhaka district administration. Its members include zoo and ministry officials, as well as police administration representatives.

Last November, the tripartite committee members visited the zoo and the areas that are illegally occupied. However, the committee has been largely inactive since Jasmin Uddin was transferred to another post.

Asim Kumar said: “We have already started communicating with the district administration to begin the demarcation work and recover the land, upon receiving the decision of the court. A letter was sent to the ministry to communicate with the Deputy Commissioner’s (DC) office for further cooperation.”

According to the officials, land demarcation and the recovery process are now stuck, as theDC office has yet to take action. The ministry sent another letter to the district administration, asking it to begin its operation.

Uzzal Bikas Dutta, the secretary of fisheries and livestock ministry, told the Dhaka Tribune last week that land demarcation does not fall under his ministry’s jurisdiction, but under the department of land survey and district administration.

He said his ministry has sent letters to them and that they are taking action. However, the ministry has yet to receive reports on what work is being done, and so have not been able to start work at their end. Dutta said: “Hopefully, we will get it, and start the work as soon as possible.

“We have already got some papers from the zoo and the illegal occupant. After examining, the papers we will demark the boundary and advise the occupants to leave the land they have occupied. If they do not leave themselves, we will start an eviction drive to recover the land, and build boundary walls.”

Fisheries and Livestock Minister Abdul Latif Biswas said on Monday: “Dhaka Zoo authority did not get its total land after the acquirement. We started a digital survey and demarcation of the boundary. The illegal land occupants will be removed from the zoo land, after we’ve completing the survey.”

According to zoo officials, about two hectares (1.2 hectares at Bishil, 0.4 hectares on the dam side of Goran Chotobari and 0.4 hectares at Nobaberbagh) of the zoo’s boundary area have been taken over by illegal occupants.

A total of 28 cases have been filed by the illegal occupants against the zoo authority, and are presently pending in various courts.

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