Locals in Pallabi have accused ruling Awami League of land grabbing and tree-felling to build their party office on the land of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa).
Ward 91 unit Awami League started building their party office on a government land in Block E of Section 12, Pallabi, by filling a lake near Wasa pump.
Locals said that the lake, which was filled up to establish the Awami League party office, was the only waterway to multiple wards in that area. They feared the illegally established Awami League party office will cause severe waterlogging in the area.
The students of nearby Shahid Zia Women College, which was established in 1993, are facing problems in commuting as Awami League activists gather near the college, which is beside the party office.
Locals also said that water from ward 2, 3, 4 and 5 used to flow to Baonia canal through the lake. It was locally known as “Shangbadik Khal.” The lake was supposed to have a road on the side of it to connect Block E and Block D but the party office has thrown all the planning into uncertainty.
Seeking anonymity, a local businessman said: “The Shangbadik Khal was larger before and it is getting encroached on every day. The ward Awami League office has occupied almost half of the remaining canal.”
This reporter witnessed the construction work of ward 91 Awami League office next to the canal on Sunday. Around 80% of the two-storey building has been constructed already. At least five large and old trees were cut down.
A Pallabi 12 Block E resident said: “There was a pharmacy on the opposite side of the under construction party office building where General Secretary of ward 91 Awami League Jahangir Mollah Shajal used to spend his leisure time. Suddenly he noticed the free place. After evacuating makeshift shops in the free space, Jahangir started constructing the party office three months ago. He cut down many trees that were here.”
DNCC 2 Ward Councilor Sazzad Hossain said that the Ward Awami League office is being built on DNCC land and they are trying to take actions on behalf of the City Corporation against the construction work.
However, Sazzad failed to answer why the illegal construction work was not stopped in the last three months.
Locals said Ward Councilor Sazzad Hossain was a BNP-backed leader. The ward Awami League’s president and general secretary were very close to the local MP. The councilor does not have the ability to say something against the ruling party.
The General Secretary of ward 91 Jahangir Mollah Sajal does not consider the construction work illegal. He said: “This was an unused place and we are establishing a building of 17 by 34 square feet as party office here. If the government wants, we will vacate the building.”
When asked about the construction cost, he said: “I cannot reveal how much money is being spent on the construction work of the building, but Awami League party activists are paying all the costs.”
However, the leader of the ward Awami League denied cutting any trees. He said: “No big trees were cut here. A few that we had to cut were mostly bushes.”
Vice President of the ward Awami League Tamizuddin Chowdhury Montu claimed that the adjoining area of the lake had turned into a hub of crime and that is why Awami League decided to set up a party office there. It would reduce crime, he said.
However, the president of the Ward 91 Awami League confessed that the party office was being built on DNCC land and said: “This land is the property of city corporation. We are building a party office here because this place was a hub of crime. Crime may be reduced if our office becomes fully functional.”
The article was first published on Bangla Tribune