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BIWTA to begin second phase of eviction drives on Tuesday

  • Published at 01:17 am March 5th, 2019
File photo: District Administration demolishes illegal structures along the bank of Buriganga River on Tuesday; February 12, 2019 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

BIWTA will be conducting the second phase of the drives on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until March 28

After a two-week-long break, the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) is set to resume its crackdown on river encroachment at Haikkar Khal (canal) near Basila, Dhaka today.

BIWTA Joint Director AKM Arif Hossain, who is leading the drive against encroachment on the Buriganga and Turag rivers, said they will be conducting the second phase of the drives on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays until March 28. 

“We will start the drives at 9am and continue till 4pm,” he said. 

In the first phase of the drives, from January 29 to February 20, at least 1,721 illegal structures were demolished and 35 acres of land reclaimed on the banks of Buriganga and Turag rivers.

The opening phase saw resistance from various quarters on multiple occasions, causing the drives to be halted on February 13 and 19. 

On February 19, a man identifying himself as a leader of Bangladesh Chhatra League and his aides obstructed the crackdown.

Asaduzzaman Talukder Labu—the self-proclaimed Kalkini Municipal unit Madaripur Chhatra League president—obstructed the drive when it started taking down a housing project of Amin & Momin Developments Ltd in Basila, Dhaka. They caused the operation to be suspended for nearly two hours. 

BIWTA Executive Magistrate Mostafizur Rahman said he ordered Labu be detained for obstructing government activities, which caused his cohorts to flee the scene.

Labu also claimed to be a close aide of former shipping minister Shajahan Khan. He was later released on a bond. 

Soon after his detention, the BIWTA summoned Joint Director AKM Arif Hossain, but he rejoined the drive the following day. 

Earlier, two executives of Amin & Momin Developments Ltd, accused of land grabbing on the bank of the Turag River, were arrested on February 14. Then BIWTA Chairman Commodore Mohammad Mozammel Haque was transferred the same day, raising questions among many. 

However, Mozammel said he was transferred as part of regular departmental procedure.

On February 13, the BIWTA was forced to temporarily suspend its drive while knocking down a two-storey building owned by the father-in-law of Anti-Corruption Commission lawyer Mosharraf Hossain Kazol.  

On February 5, the BIWTA drive demolished several semi-concrete structures owned by Awami League lawmaker from the Dhaka 7 constituency Haji Mohammad Selim.