A total of 3,077 illegal shops of 18 markets are listed for eviction
Ignoring huge political pressure, the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) authorities have launched a large-scale eviction drive against illegally set up shops at city markets.
The estate department of DSCC had recently listed a total number of 3,077 illegal shops at 18 markets owned by the city corporation following a report by the committee concerned.
The report prompted DSCC Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh to give directives to demolish the shops.
Subsequently, the estate department began demolishing illegal shops at Phulbaria Supermarket in the capital's Gulistan area on Tuesday amid the protests of shop owners and employees.
Altogether 910 shops will be demolished at Phulbaria Market in the next two days.
The authorities have scheduled the next drive at Sundarban Super Market in Gulistan on December 14.
DSCC Mayor Taposh said: “We have listed thousands of illegal shops at different city markets. We have decided to evict all illegal shops at any cost.”
Protest at Phulbaria Market during drive
Phulbaria Market behind the DSCC consists of three plazas – City Plaza, Nagar Plaza and Zaker Super Market Plaza – where a total number 910 shops were found to be illegal.
Of them, 308 shops at City Plaza, 291 are at Nagar Plaza and 311 at Zaker Super Market Plaza.
The three buildings of the market, set up illegally, were demolished in the drive that started at around 11am on Tuesday, according to the DSCC authorities.
Soon after the drive was launched, the shop owners and employees staged demonstrations protesting the eviction. When at one point they tried to attack the city corporation employees, police used tear gas to defuse the situation.
A large contingent of police was present on the spot. A series of chase and counter-chase between the law enforcers and the protesters took place.
The shop owners alleged that they were given a 12-hour deadline to take away their belongings from the shops.
Firoz Ahmed, secretary general of Nagar Plaza Shop Owners Association, said: “We had demanded a meeting with the mayor before the eviction drive but he did not give us any time.”
“The shop owners will suffer most as the authorities are demolishing their shops,” he added.
Rasel Sabrin, chief estate officer of DSCC, said: “We gave them notice twice — one was before the eviction day and another was around a month ago.”
Meanwhile, DSCC Mayor Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh told reporters that the corporation would continue the drive at any cost to restore the original shape of the market.
He said, “The shops were built illegally, violating the original design by occupying open spaces, passages, space for toilet, footpath, stairs and lift which made the market congested.”
Apart from these, many shops were built illegally by occupying the parking space of the market that resulted in huge traffic congestions on the road as vehicles were parked haphazardly here and there.
Political force behind 3,077 Illegal shops at 18 markets?
According to the estate department, the DSCC manages 86 markets in Dhaka and the number of authority-owned markets is 71. After scrutiny of all markets, 3,077 illegal shops were found.
Sources said that allotting shops by violating the design started in 1996 when Mohammad Hanif was the mayor. It continued during the term of Sadek Hossen Khoka as well as Sayed Khokon as mayors. The administrators also allotted illegal shops in 2012.
Dewan Aminul Islam, president of the DSCC Shop Owners Federation, said: “Many shops owners have the documents of allotment by the DSCC. Many also have the receipts of rent paid.”
“As the city corporation charged for the rent of the shops and issued trade licences, how could we say it is illegal? The officials and mayors are involved in the corruption but we are the ones being victimized,” he added.
He said shop owners had bought their shop spaces by spending between Tk5 lakh and Tk60 lakh.
Mayor Taposh said many people were involved in the process of allotting illegal shops at the city corporation’s markets.
Replying to a question regarding former mayor Sayeed Khokan’s involvement in the illegal allotment at the market, Taposh said: “We have noticed detailed media reports. But it is not our concern how they built the shops by violating the design. Our decision is to evict all the illegal shops to bring about discipline in the markets.”
Shop owners claimed that many city corporation officials were also involved in the illegal allotment.
Mayor Taposh said: “At that time, the circumstances of the city corporation were different. Now it is completely changed after I have taken responsibility. None of my officials can be involved in any illegal process. If I find people involved in such a process, they will be punished.”
Dewan Aminul Islam, president of the DSCC shops owners’ federation, said: “We met with the mayor in the evening today [Tuesday]. We demanded fresh allotments to the victim shop owners. The mayor has promised to allot legal shops to the victim shop owners.”