The move is aimed to expedite and bolster the BIWTA’s river safety drives across the country
With an intensified crackdown on river encroachment underway, the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has plans to add 12 more excavators to its fleet.
BIWTA Chief Engineer (Dredging) Md Abdul Matin said they have decided to procure the excavators (9 long-boom, two jackhammer, and one high-reach) at an estimated cost of Tk42 crore.
“We will be floating a tender in this regard very soon. Hopefully, they will be delivered to us within nine months,” he said.
The move is aimed to expedite and bolster the BIWTA’s river safety drives across the country.
Currently, the BIWTA has three excavators. Two of them are being used for the eviction drive along the Buriganga and Turag rivers, while the other is engaged in Narayanganj.
Ever since the new tenure, the government has repeatedly been going down hard against corruption and the crackdown on land grabbers is a part of that. Though the crackdown started on January 29, it intensified greatly following the February 2 directive of the High Court on river safety.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury has also vowed strongly to make the rivers free from illegal occupation, thus, helping them regain a healthy ecosystem.
On Monday, Shipping Secretary Md Abdus Samad also asked the BIWTA to intensify its drive by going beyond any threats or pressure.
Meanwhile, 57 illegal structures were pulled down along Turag River between Basila and Keraniganj on Tuesday, the first day of the second phase of the BIWTA drive which started after a two-week-long break. Nine buildings out of the 57 structures were multistoried.
During the drive, 31 boundary walls stretching 10.5 acres of land were also demolished.
The newly-appointed BIWTA Chairman Commodore M Mahbub-ul Islam among others inspected the drive for the first time, said Joint Director AKM Arif Hossain, who is leading the drive against the encroachment on the Buriganga and Turag rivers.
Like the first phase, conducted from January 29 to February 20, the second one will undergo on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays and is scheduled to end on March 28.
In the first phase of the drive, at least 1,721 illegal structures were demolished and 35 acres of land were reclaimed on the banks of Buriganga and Turag rivers.
The opening phase was eventful as it saw resistance from different quarters multiple times, causing the drive to halt on February 13 and 19. Even the BIWTA joint director was summoned for unavoidable circumstances. The government on February 14 issued a transfer order to the then BIWTA Chairman Commodore Mohammad Mozammel Haque, raising many questions.
Mozammel, however, termed the development a regular departmental procedure, which was “not in any way linked to the drive.”
Before the crackdown on land grabbers and river polluters, the government evicted 12,863 illegal structures, recovering 512.62 acres of land in Dhaka and Narayanganj from 2010 to January 26, 2019.