Fresh survey to 'reclaim' Dhaka river foreshores

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Category : Mirkadim, Munshiganj Related

While it is imperative to recover foreshores to save rivers, relevant deputy commissioners (DC) said they had to retain the private ownerships on Khas land of the foreshores of Dhaka rivers, arguing that regaining those would require land acquisition and record correction.

The Gazipur district administration has postponed setting up of boundary pillars along the Turag excluding the foreshore and undertaken a fresh survey to demarcate its land following a report published in The Daily Star two weeks ago.

“We’ll include foreshores with the rivers where it is not occupied but accept the existing lease of the foreshores because cancelling those will require record correction,” said Gazipur DC Kamal Uddin Talukder.

“I agree that foreshore lands have been leased out although successive authorities should not have done it,” he told this correspondent.

Kamal added that following the fresh survey, they want to set up two boundary lines along the rivers — one as per the existing survey excluding the foreshores and the other including those.

Mahbubul Alam, director (port) of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), said the DCs turned down their concerns about foreshores.

Records show the Gazipur DC ignored the BIWTA correspondences expressing concerns that excluding foreshores will shrink the rivers permanently.

The shipping ministry has convened a meeting of the DCs of Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Munshiganj today to discuss ways to save foreshores.

The DCs admitted to leasing out the foreshores over the years although existing laws term those ?integral to rivers?.

It will require acquisition to regain the leased out land, said Delwar Hossain, additional deputy commissioner (revenue) of Gazipur.

Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), an active party to the battle for river conservation, said the DCs have no authority to lease out foreshore lands as per the Land Management Manual.

“Therefore, the question of land acquisition does not arise,” she said, adding that the DCs have to free the foreshores from any occupancy and conserve those.

She added that they will soon appeal to the High Court seeking directions on the DCs for a list of the land leased out and another as per the CS record.

A 2009 HC judgement holds that a river primarily includes bed, foreshore and bank.

But the DCs gave no heed to the verdict while demarcating the Buriganga, Shitalakkhya, Turag, Balu and Dhaleswari.

Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan launched the setting up of boundary pillars along the Turag on April 12.

Narayanganj DC M Shamsur Rahman said as per the RS records, kilometer after kilometer of Khas lands are under private ownership.

“We’ve to accept the reality,” said Rahman hinting that foreshores under private ownerships are irrevocable.

His administration has already set up the boundary pillars well into the foreshores of the Shitalakkhya.

When pointed out to the 2009 HC judgement, he said: “I’ve to see what the court orders.”

Munshiganj DC Azizul Alam says he is unsure whether the foreshores of the Dhaleswari at Munshiganj and Mirkadim river ports have been earmarked.

WASTE OF PUBLIC MONEY

Of the total 800 pillars required for the 18-kilometre stretch of the Turag and the Balu in Gazipur, the Public Works Department (PWD) has set up 310 so far.

PWD Executive Engineer Bahauddin, who is responsible for the job, said the RCC pillars that have been set up will be of no use if the boundary line shifts to include the foreshores.

It will mean a waste of nearly Tk 90 lakh from public fund. The district has a Tk 1.4-crore budget for the project.

The Narayanganj district administration has set up around 100 pillars of the 10,000 required under a Tk 10-crore project along 126-kilometre (both banks) stretch of the Shitalakkhya.

The Munshiganj district administration has set up 85 pillars of the 604 required under a Tk 1.17-crore project.

Tawfique Ali – thedailystar

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