BIWTA filling up the Turag again
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has taken an initiative to build permanent structures in the capital's Gabtoli, Amin Bazar, and Diabari areas by filling the Turag.
The government body has come up with the initiative as part of its plan to construct large concrete jetties on the riverbanks.
In 2005, the same authorities constructed landing stations in the same areas by filling the riverbanks as the government introduced a water taxi service to facilitate commuters.
Despite spending a huge amount of money, the government failed to popularise the service that has been remaining shut for many years.
The landing stations have remained abandoned since then with the suspension of the service.
During a recent visit to the areas, this correspondent noticed that multiple private and government structures were set up adjacent to the landing stations by illegally filling the river.
The newly-planned large jetties will be constructed near these landing stations.
Contacted, environmentalists said that construction of such illegal structures by filling the river violates a directive of the High Court.
There is a V-shaped bend of the Turag river at Diabari point. A landing station was constructed around 150 feet inside the river's boundary demarcation pillars. A truck station has been set up there.
In a recent visit, it was noticed that BIWTA has kept filling the riverbank near the landing station.
Large jetties are being constructed near the landing station's south portion around 100 feet inside the river's boundary demarcation pillar no. 210, 211 and 212.
The demarcation pillars were set up by BIWTA and the Ministry of Shipping.
The BIWTA is also filling the river bank at the landing station's north portion to construct Eco-Park.
Another jetty is being constructed near Amin Bazar landing station around 150 feet inside the river boundary demarcation pillars no. 109, 110 and 111.
Another landing station at Gabtoli was constructed around 150 feet inside the demarcation pillar. Now, construction works for large jetties are ongoing on the north side of the landing station.
Besides, a two-storied government building has been constructed by the Department of Agricultural Marketing in the space between the landing station and the under-construction jetty.
Contacted, Paribesh Bachao Andolan Chairman Abu Naser Khan said large concrete structures like jetty would obstruct the natural water flow of the river.
There is a High Court directive that imposes a ban on the construction of any structure obstructing the natural flow of river water. Besides, such construction on the riverbank would encourage further encroachment, he added.
"In the case of road communication, we can see that parking spaces are being constructed by widening roads. Similarly, jetties should be constructed by widening rivers instead of filling it," Khan said.
Contacted, Bangladesh Poribesh Bachao Andolon General Secretary Sharif Jamil said constructions of such structures inside river boundary demarcation pillars are a violation of the High Court directive.
The Turag is on the verge of extinction due to the construction of such structures as landing stations and jetties, he viewed.
Such government projects are being undertaken for the interest of vested quarter and to legitimate other riverbank grabbers, said Jamil.
He also demanded that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should quiz the officials involved in such projects.
However, BIWTA Executive Engineer Motiul Islam, also Dhaka's Circular Waterway Project's deputy chief director, denied the allegations of violating any HC directives.
The jetties are being constructed following the High Court directives that allow construction of jetties and walkways for goods transportation and public movement, he claimed.