Major grabbing began in 1983

December 30, 2009

Surveys on 4 rivers point at big names
From The Daily Star
The Narayanganj district administration in its survey report on the four major rivers has revealed how industrialists, influential individuals and government organisations have grabbed the Buriganga, Shitalakkhya, Balu and Dhaleswari since 1983.
All the four district administrations, which also include Dhaka, Munshiganj and Gazipur that submitted their reports to the High Court, are now waiting for the court’s directives regarding the next course of action.
The last revised survey (RS) on the four rivers was done in 1983.
Narayanganj district administration based its survey on both the Cadastral Survey (CS) conducted between 1910 and 1913 and the revised survey between 1973 and 1983.
Its survey reveals where the Shitalakkhya, Balu and part of Buriganga were located early last century and how they looked in 1983 and how they look now.
Officials of the survey team said villages, schools and even townships have grown on areas that were parts of the rivers as shown in the map of CS 1913 and this makes it practically impossible to recover the land now.
Government land surveyors used the detailed CS and RS maps provided by the Department of Land Records and Survey to pinpoint the location of the four rivers in 1913 and 1983.
On June 25, the High Court asked the deputy commissioners of Dhaka, Narayanganj, Munshiganj and Gazipur to conduct the surveys to find out the actual width of the rivers as per the CS and RS.
The Dhaka DC in his report said there are 4,021 encroachers in river areas under its jurisdiction; the Munshiganj DC identified 1,144 encroachers while the Gazipur DC mentioned only seven encroachers.
Findings of the survey reports based on RS 1983 records reveal how the land and industries ministries, the BTMC and BIWTA, and the zila parishads have defied the Land Management Manual of 1991 and leased out alluvial land, said an official of Land Department. “The manual only allows the DC office to lease out alluvial land on a yearly basis among the landless,” he said.
The 18.58km long eastern bank of the Balu falls under the jurisdiction of Narayanganj district authorities while the western bank falls under Dhaka district. Both banks of the Buriganga under Narayanganj district stretch 24.55km while the banks of Shitalakkhya in the district stretch 86km.
While the CS shows thousands of houses, schools, mosques and industries on these three rivers, the 1983 RS identifies 320 structures there.
Various government organisations are occupying 150 acres of land in the Shitalakkhya and 61 acres in Dhaleswari under Bandar upazila of Narayanganj, according to the report of Narayanganj district authority.
A food department warehouse occupies 17 decimals of land while Bangladesh Institute of Marine Technology occupies 29 decimals in the Shitalakkhya. (100 decimals make an acre while one decimal is equal to 436 square-foot and 1.67 decimals make a katha.)
Narayanganj Deputy Commissioner M Shamsur Rahman said their survey reveals that government organisations alone are responsible for 30 percent encroachment on the three rivers in the district.
In Bandar upazila, Haripur barge-mounted power plant occupies 1.33 acres of land in the Shitalakkhya, Star Particle Board Mills Ltd occupies 17 decimals, Rupayan Housing (Dhamgarh) 15 decimals, Shamsur Alamin Cotton Mills 3.10 acres and BIWTC dockyard 1 acre.
Karnaphuli Texport Ltd (Laxmankhola) occupies 81 decimals in the Shitalakkhya, Sohagpur Textile Mills 3 acres, Dalanbari Jame Mosque 16 decimals, Bandar dockyard 35 decimals, Syed Dockyard 47 decimals, a person named Habibur Rahman 1.08 acres, Cemex Cement (Mahmud Nagar) 7.11 acres, and Akiz Cement Factory 23 decimals, says the Narayanganj report.
The administrative officer of Akiz Cement Factory claimed that they leased the land from the BIWTA.
Cold storages, textile mills and salt and chemical factories occupy land at various points of the Buriganga under Narayanganj.
In Shitalakkhya at Murapara under Rupganj upazila, Global Dyeing (Allied Jute Mills) occupies 3 acres, Shikdar Salt (Crystal Salt) 87 decimals, ACI Salt Industries Ltd 1.18 acres, Rupashi Bonkrit Industries Ltd 35 decimals, Lina Paper Mills Ltd 2.25 acres and Mir Cement Industries Ltd 13 decimals of land.
Partex Group occupies 1 decimal of land in Shitalakkhya at Bhulta under Rupganj.
In Daudpur, MMB Bricks Field Ltd occupies 86 decimals of land in Shitalakkhya, MIB Bricks Field Ltd 69 decimals, MAF Bricks Field Ltd 86 decimals, MAM Bricks Field Ltd 1.29 acres and MHB Bricks Field Ltd 81 decimals. Private dockyards at Kayetpara occupy river land in different volumes, according to the survey report.
When contacted, AKM Mahbub Hasan of Cemex Cement said the company has valid documents for the land it is using.
Sohagpur Textile Mills General Manager Alauddin Ahmed termed the survey incorrect, alleging that the district administration surveyors “gave hints for an underhand deal”. “Our name was included as we refused their proposal,” he said.
He claimed that the industries ministry allocated the land to Sohagpur Textile Mills through Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation and that he has valid papers for his claim.
Director of Star Particle and Amber Pulp Quamruzzaman said the industries ministry allocated the entire plot to the industry in 1982. “It is absolutely out of question that we are ‘occupying’ river land. We wholeheartedly support the movement for saving the rivers without which our future generations are doomed,” he said.
Subikash Barua of ACI Salt, which is occupying 1.18 acres of land, refused to make any comment since company spokesperson AG Dey was out of the country.
During the survey, a few industrialists denied the survey team access to their compounds, which delayed the survey process for several days.
They, however, eventually allowed the officials.
Narayanganj DC Shamsur Rahman said after completing the measurement the surveyors informed the authorities of these companies about the encroachment but there was no word from them. A few claimed to have lease deeds but none could produce any evidence, he said.
The DC, who led the 81-member survey team, told The Daily Star that they were now awaiting directives from the court.
“Now we have a clear picture of the river areas and we are in a position to start reclaiming them as soon as we have court’s directives,” he said.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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