The Chattogram district administration yesterday demolished around 50 illegal structures on a Karnaphuli river bank in the port city on the first day of an eviction drive.
The drive is being conducted in line with the High Court order to knock down the illegal structures, said Elias Hossen, deputy secretary of Chattogram district administration.
The demolished structures include business establishments, the office of Sadarghat Sampan Maji Samiti, warehouses and a tin-roofed structure of Karnaphuli Ship Builders Ltd.
Members of police, Rab and fire service and representatives of the Chattogram Development Authority, Chattogram City Corporation, Power Development Board and Chattogram Port Authority were present during the drive in Sadarghat Jetty area.
Elias said the Chattogram Port Authority, Chattogram City Corporation and district administration would monitor the reclaimed land so that no illegal structures were built again there.
Asked why some structures were not dismantled, though the court ordered to do so, he said they would do it in phases.
Imran Kadir, a former banker and also a local, said, “We welcome the administration's move. But the land could be occupied again, if not monitored regularly.”
Nazrul Islam, assistant general manager of Karnaphuli Ship Builders Ltd, told The Daily Star that they removed some structures after an announcement was made through loudspeakers on Saturday and Sunday in this regard.
“We respected the court order and removed our structures the day before the drive,” he claimed.
Commodore Kh Akhter Hossain, member (engineering) at Chattogram Port Authority, said they, along with other organisations, were removing the demolished structures.
“When both the banks will get rid of the illegal structures, the river will get back its original shape, facilitating entry of more ships into the river and unloading of goods from ships,” he added.
In 2012, the HC ordered the district administration to conduct a survey to assess how much land of the Karnaphuli was grabbed and prepare a list of land grabbers.
After three years of survey, the administration submitted a report in 2016, saying that there were 2,109 illegal installations on the river bank.
On August 16 that year, the HC again directed the same authority to demolish the structures within six months and gave the grabbers three months to remove the structures on their own.
The organisation could not comply with the court order due to fund crunch. Finally, the land ministry provided it with the necessary fund to run the drive, said sources at the district administration.