The drive will end around 5pm
The Chittagong district administration knocked down a total 170 illegal structures and reclaimed 7 acres of land in the four-day-long first phase of eviction drives on the banks of Karnaphuli River, which ended on Thursday.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Patenga Circle Assistant Commissioner (Land) Tahmilur Rahman said they did not face any obstruction from any quarters during the eviction drives.
"The drives ended smoothly on the fourth day. We did not face any obstruction. So far, we have demolished 170 illegal structures and reclaimed seven acres of land in the last four days. We will set up demarcation pillars and hang notices in the reclaimed land. As part of beautification work, some saplings will also be planted on the reclaimed land," he added.
Among 120 establishments demolished in the first three days, 52 were salt factories, the assistant commissioner said.
He further said five out of the seven acres of land reclaimed were in the Sadarghat Lighterage Jetty, Majhirghat, Anu Miar Majhirghat, Laban Ghat, and adjoining areas. Fire Service, the Chittagong City Corporation (CCC), Chittagong Development Authority (CDA), Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) members, and police took part in the drive.
According to Tahmilur, the area from Chaktai to Patenga has been divided into three zones to facilitate the eviction drives, and 2,187 illegal establishments will be bulldozed.
Earlier on February 2, Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury sounded a strong warning for encroachers, saying no one would be spared during the eviction drives on the banks of the Karnaphuli River.
"The Karnaphuli River is an asset of Chittagong and we must protect it, rising above political identity. The survival of the port city depends on the survival of the Karnaphuli," said the minister.
On August 16, 2016, the High Court directed the authorities concerned to remove 2,112 structures illegally-built on the banks of Karnaphuli River, in response to a writ petition.
The writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh sought directives from the High Court to save the river, citing media reports of rampant encroachment on its banks.
In the petition, a number of individuals—owners of businesses, houses, and slums—a container terminal, and six government entities were accused of erecting illegal structures at the Bakalia, Patenga, Madrabari, Ghosail Danga, Monoharkhali, and Firingi Bazar areas on the riverbanks.