Locals in Pallabi have accused the ruling party of grabbing property and felling trees in order to build a party office on the land of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa).
The Ward 91 unit of the ruling party started building its party office on a piece of government land in Block E of Section 12, Pallabi, after filling in a lake near the Wasa pump.
Locals expressed fears that the illegally established Awami League party office will cause severe waterlogging in the area as water from wards 2, 3, 4 and 5 used to flow to Baonia canal through the lake, 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 new party office has thrown all the planning into uncertainty.
“The Shangbadik Khal was larger before and it is getting encroached on every day,” a local businessman said, on the condition of anonymity. “The ward Awami League office has occupied almost half of the remaining canal.”
The vice president of the local party, Tamizuddin Chowdhury Montu, acknowledged that the office was being built on DNCC land.
“This land is the property of the city corporation,” he said. “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 Dhaka Tribune witnessed the construction work of the party office next to the canal on Sunday. Around 80% of the two-storey building has been completed and at least five large and old trees were cut down.
“The ward Awami League office is being built on DNCC land and so we are trying to take actions on behalf of the City Corporation against the construction work,” DNCC 2 Ward Councilor Sazzad Hossain said.
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A worker on top of The under-construction Awami League party office building in Pallabi's ward 91. Locals accuse the local unit of the ruling party of illegally grabbing lands originally owned by Dhaka North City Corporation and Dhaka Wasa Bangla Tribune
However, Sazzad failed to explain why the illegal construction work had not been stopped in the past three months.
One explanation was provided by locals, who said the ward councilor is a BNP-backed leader who cannot speak out against the ruling party since the ward Awami League’s president and general secretary are both very close to the local MP.
A Pallabi 12 Block E resident said the general secretary of the ward 91 Awami League, Jahangir Mollah Shajal, used to spend his leisure time at a pharmacy on the opposite side of the under construction party office building.
“Suddenly he noticed the free place,” the resident said, on condition of anonymity. “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.”
The ward 91 general secretary dismissed claims that the construction work is opportune or illegal.
“This was an unused place and we are establishing a building of 17 by 34 square feet as party office here,” he said. “If the government wants, we will vacate the building.”
Jahangir said he could not reveal how much money is being spent on the construction work of the building, but said Awami League party activists are paying all the costs.
However, he denied that any mature trees had needed to be cut down. “No big trees were cut here. A few that we had to cut were mostly bushes,” he said.
The article was first published on Bangla Tribune