Grabbers feast on Bakkhali river

November 23, 2013

Lax legal process encourages enchroachers in Cox’s Bazar
Grabbers feast on Bakkhali riverBakkhali river in Cox’s Bazar is getting narrower day by day as the land grabbers are out to encroach on both sides of the river by erecting illegal structures.
Many of the grabbers have either built structures or hung signboards on the encroached land along the banks of the river, stretching over an area of five kilometres from Uttar Nuniachhara to Majhirghat in the town.
The grabbers are also active to grab about 15 kms of river banks in the suburbs, locals sources said.
At least 1,000 illegal structures have been set up on the banks of the 50-km-long river, said Anwarul Islam Chowdhury, coordinator of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), Chittagong, citing a recent survey conducted by the organisation.
According to the Coastal Forest Division, Chittagong, the district administration is the custodian of the river. Taking permission from the district administration, the forest department grew mangrove forest along the banks of the river.
This correspondent found that the grabbers had already destroyed the mangrove forest in Nasirtek area.
Enamul Haque Bhuiyan, assistant forest conservator in Cox’s Bazar, said a total of 12,000 acres of land in the district under coastal forest division had been returned to the district administration.
The forest department was forced to return the land planned to raise mangrove forest due to mindless grabbing by the local influential quarters, he said, adding that at least forty people had been sued for this illegal practice.
In 2008, the Coastal Forest Division, Chittagong, prepared a list of alleged grabbers, and filed cases against them, which are still pending with the court.
Nasir Uddin, a lawyer for the division, said the grabbers had been threatening him to refrain from running the cases. Some of them had even obtained stay order from the High Court in this regard, he said.
Md Ruhul Amin, deputy commissioner (DC) of Cox’s Bazar, said the grabbers would be evicted from the land before the re-excavation work begins.
Cases have already been field against the grabbers, the DC added.
Apart from the grabbing, rampant dumping of garbage in Kustura Ghat renders another blow to the dying river.
Admitting this, Sardar Sariful Islam, assistant director of the Department of Environment in Cox’s Bazar, said the random cultivation of tobacco, setting up of dockyards and throwing rubbish into the river are posing threats to the ecology of the river.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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