They have occupied the bazaar, ponds and fish enclosures in Wapdarhaat of the Kotalipara upazila along the Gopalganj-Poisarhat road and selling them illegally violating the High Court ban
Local influential people have occupied land owned by Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), in Gopalganj, worth Tk100 crore.
They have occupied the bazaar, ponds and fish enclosures in Wapdarhaat of the Kotalipara upazila along the Gopalganj-Poisarhat road and selling them illegally violating the High Court ban.
According to the locals, after the war of independence a small bazaar (haat) used to sit in a place named Wapda on the BWDB land twice a week, from 1972. Later it became popular as “Wapdar Haat” and became a common market place.
From that time influential businessmen occupied almost 21 acres of land worth Tk100 crore belonging to the BWDB. They built and grew an empire on government land.
Fish farmer Siraj Shikdar said: “We took lease from the BWDB to cultivate fish in 2009. But locally influential businessmen Mannan Sheikh and Nazrul Islam Mahin illegally occupied the leased land for fish farming and built multistoried buildings violating High Court order.”
Several vendors from Wapdar Haat said that the BWDB did not allocate any lands to anyone. Everyone is illegally occupying the land and conducting businesses.
They said, a businessman named Milon Haider is building a multi-storied building without any permission from the authority.
Talking about the matter Milon Haider said: “I took the land through negotiations from the businessmen of Wapdar Haat paying Tk4 lac. But it’s true I did not take any legal permission from the authority.”
The alleged occupier Nazrul Islam Mahin said: “I am not occupying or selling any government land. Former Executive Engineer of Board of Water Development Board gave verbal instructions for the development of a mosque so I am developing some land for the local mosque. But my rivals are spreading rumors to defame me.”
When asked about the land sold to Milan Hawladar, he said, the land was owned by a village doctor. After requesting the doctor we gave the land to Milan. Milan deposited a small sum of money in the Mosque development trust to repay the favor.
BWDB’s surveyor Rabindranath Roy said: “We had not provided lease to any businessman. Most of the businesses there are illegal. The pond was legally leased but two parties are currently battling in High Court to get ownership. Gopalganj Water Development Board has already taken initiatives to recover occupied land.”
Deputy Assistant Engineer of the Tungipara division of Gopalganj Water Development Board, Sadiul Alam Chayan said, "My colleagues and I have already visited the occupied land in order to recover the land of Wapdar Haat. After we submit the report, the Water Development Board will take necessary steps to rescue the huge amount of land from the occupiers.”