Cumilla, Oct 1 (UNB) - After selling off sand and earth from the vicinity of the Gomti River, now encroachers have started selling off its land illegally, posing a serious threat to its protection dam and destroying its beauty.
Local people alleged that powerful people are now selling government land at Tk 1 lakh per decimal among the poor through stamped papers.
During a recent visit from Alekharchar Amtali Bridge area to Tikkarchar Bridge, the UNB correspondent found over a hundred houses, shops on both sides of the river and on the dam.
Talking to the correspondent, the so-called owners of the houses and shops said they bought the lands from some local influential people through stamped papers where there is a mention that nobody will claim the ownership of the land property but they will have to go away if the government wants them to do so.
Rafiqul Islam of Shahartali Chanpur area said six people, including Rafique himself, bought a land from Raja Mia at Tk 1 lakh per decimal a year back, and they have settled over there.
Mizanur Rahman also bought a piece of land from a man in Pachthubi union at Tk 1.5 lakh per decimal and set up a grocery shop over there.
Md Abdul Latif, executive engineer of Cumilla Water Development Board, said they prepared a list to evict establishments set up on the riverbank protection embankment after visiting the area and the list of 317 illegal structures was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner on September 22.
“If the land cannot be reclaimed from the encroachers right now, the embankment will be at stake,” he said adding that they will soon start the eviction drive as a letter in this regard has already been sent to the Deputy Commissioner.
Deputy Commissioner of Cumilla Abul Fazal Mir said they have got the list of illegal structures on government land from the Water Development Board (WDB) and the magistrate and police force are ready to assist the WDB in this regard whenever they want.
He said it has become difficult to save the country's many rivers due to illegal sand dredging and large-scale industrial pollution.
On Jul 1, 2019, the High Court declared the country's rivers as ‘living entities’, aiming to save them from encroachment.
The court appointed the country's River Conservation Commission as the legal guardian of all the waterways and directed other state agencies to fully assist them.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) carried out a massive eviction drive along the banks of the rivers around capital Dhaka, demolishing over 4,000 illegal structures.