According to locals, the land grabbing was initiated two weeks ago by Raisul Kabir Swapan, owner of a petrol pump at Rupatali bus stand
Allegations have surfaced about a local influential person enabling land grabbing along a portion of the west bank of the Kirtankhola River.
In a visit to the area it was discovered that about 200ft of piling work had already been completed on the riverbed near the Rice Research Institute at Dhangobeshona Road, which falls under ward 24 of Barisal City Corporation. The construction of a concrete block wall was seen to be in progress.
According to locals, the land grabbing was initiated two weeks ago by Raisul Kabir Swapan, owner of a petrol pump at Rupatali bus stand.
A local resident wishing to remain anonymous said the riverbed expanded during the rainy season and shrunk in winter. “The land-grabbers encroached on the riverbank during the dry season to carry out the piling and wall construction work,” he added.
Raisul, however, laid claim to the land, saying: “My grandfather, Safez Uddin Howladar, purchased the 60 decimals of land back in 1954.” He also said their family owned more than 19.36 acres of land in the same area, but due to river erosion only around 12–13 acres still remained.
According to Raisul, the piling work and wall construction were intended to prevent river erosion during the next rainy season. “This is not an attempt to grab the river but to save our property,” he said.
Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Rajib Ahmed said the riverbank could not be a private property. He ordered the assistant commissioner (land) to visit the spot and investigate the allegation.
“If the allegations of grabbing the riverbed area are found to be true, action will be taken against those involved,” the ADM said.
Mehedy Hasan, assistant commissioner (land) of Barisal Sadar upazila, said the district administration had already started a drive against illegal encroachment at the Kirtankhola riverbed. “We visited the disputed spot on Sunday, but could not locate the person in charge of the work,” he added.
“We asked locals and workers to tell the land grabber to demolish the constructed illegal structures there. Otherwise, we will have to conduct an eviction drive soon,” he also added.