Despite the High Court’s (HC) directives, on January 25, 2011, to demarcate the city’s Gulshan Lake and remove all illegal structures from it within the next two months, rampant encroachment on the lake continues unabated in the area under the Banani-Gulshan Bridge II. Some unscrupulous people, in the dark of the night, had been dumping landfill in the lake under the bridge, thereby choking the flow of the water and creating illegal land, locals alleged.
Incidentally, when The Independent visited the spot on Thursday, the locals gave mixed information regarding the lake grabbing.
Ilias Miah, a tea-shop owner by the side of the lake, said that the lake was not being grabbed by anybody. During the winter, water flow in the lake had fallen causing land to emerge from both sides of the lake naturally, he argued.
“I don’t know about any grabbing activity over here. People from nearby residential areas dump wastes here, choking the flow of the water,” Idris Mia said.
But during a spot investigation, it was found that the land that had emerged on the sides of the lake under the bridge was not garbage but soil dumped in the lake water.
Meanwhile, a security guard of a nearby apartment complex alleged that some influential local people, including one by the name of Jainal, dumped construction waste in the lake to create a slum and rent it to the working-class people.
“Jainal had some houses in Karail slums. But as the Karail slum is going to be removed soon, Jainal planned to grab some of the land by the side of the lake and create a new slum here,” said the guard.
However, the security man added that he had not seen any dumping activity in his own eyes.
When The Independent tried to get in touch with Jainal over his cell phone, he did not take the call.
After a close observation of the site this correspondent found that about 8-10 drainage pipes from the nearby apartment buildings discharged household waste directly in the lake. He also spotted some bamboos and pieces of timber, presumably materials for constructing the slum, lying under the bridge.
The Independent also talked with some people from the nearby offices, including Airtel, whose office building was close by the lake.
An Airtel official said that months ago, there were some temporary bamboo-built shops by the side of the lake. He, however, added that those makeshift shops were evicted later. “I think some new grabbers have come up with new plans,” he said.
When contacted, Nurul Islam, RAJUK officer of the Gulshan circle, said that he did not know anything about land grabbing near the Banani-Gulshan Bridge.
“It is not far from the diplomatic zone and there is always heavy security deployed there. I think it is not possible for the grabbers to grab land there,” he said.
When he was informed of the storing of bamboos and other construction materials under the bridge, he said that he would look into the matter.
Islam also said that RAJUK alone could not do anything to protect the lake. “There is no proper sewerage system for the Badda and Baridhara areas. Naturally, the lake has become a dumping ground for household waste,” he added.
Although the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) had been assigned the task of conducting a feasibility study on forming an alternative sewerage system, it was yet to initiate the process, he said.
“On part of the RAJUK, we’ve asked the land ministry to reclaim the banks of the lake from encroachers. After that, it’s for a massive development project in the area,” he said.
Courtesy of The Independent