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Dhaka Tribune

Uttara Lake yet to be freed from encroachers

Update : 07 Apr 2014, 07:14 PM

Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha had taken a plan two years ago to improve the lake in posh Uttara Residential Model Town of the capital. But there is no reflection in reality as a key part of the water body has gradually been occupied by more new grabbers.

Meanwhile, the mindless release of untreated waste water from households and industries, and sewage and effluents into the lake through scores of drains has been continued in a way that in future it would be quite impossible to treat the water.

Rajuk, the apex authority to oversee the city’s development, has been ignoring its responsibility to continue regular maintenance of the water and freeing the lake from grabbers for which there is budget allocation every year.

The project was initiated in 2012 upon directives from the Department of Environment to free the lack from occupants in the part of Sector 9 to Abdullahpur. The lake stretches from the airport’s runway and ends at Abdullahpur of Tongi.

Even though the state-run agency already started development projects on the capital’s two other lakes, it is yet to begin work on the Uttara one.

Rajuk initiated integrated development of Hatirjheel area including Begunbari Khal, and improvement and beautification of Gulshan-Banani-Baridhara Lake. So far, two-thirds of the development work on Hatirjheel canal – inaugurated last year – is complete while work on the Gulshan Lake has been underway at snail’s pace because of legal tangles.

During field visit, the Dhaka Tribune has found that furniture shops, a rickshaw garage, a makeshift mosque, automobile workshops by renowned firms and other illegal structures have encroached on a large portion of the water body on and around Sonargaon Janapath Road.

Local residents said the illegal establishments had been built in broad daylight but the authorities did not stop the grabbers.

Saiful Islam, a resident of Sector 9, said: “At first, the grabbers fill up a small portion of the lake with waste and debris, and then they raise the structures.”

Besides, the lake water has turned dark and poisonous, and stinks.

Unabated discharge of domestic and industrial effluents, sediments from under-construction buildings and liquid sewage through Wasa drains has made the lake a dumping ground.

Residents blamed the absence of an improved sewerage system and waste treatment facility in the Rajuk plan for the sorry state.

Halima Khatun, a resident of Sector 13, said: “The lake is being filled up every day. The dumping of sediments and waste is creating scope for setting new infrastructures on the lake side. But Rajuk has no steps for re-excavation of the lake.”

When contacted, Rajuk high-ups admitted the incidents of land grabbing and water pollution. They also said action would be taken against the existing encroachers immediately. But they have no concrete plans.

Khondkar Salahuddin, member (planning) of Rajuk, told the Dhaka Tribune: “We have sent a proposal regarding the lake’s improvement to the Planning Commission for approval of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec).”

Rajuk would start the development project after getting the approval.

Asked about the land grabbing, he said: “The occupied land will be recovered from illegal possession, and all the illegal structures will also be demolished.”

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