State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury on Thursday informed parliament that there are 49,558 river grabbers across the country with highest 5,906 occupiers in Cumilla district.
He placed the statistics in Parliament replying to a question from Awami League MP Abdul Latif (Chattogram-11).
Second highest 4,704 illegal occupants of rivers are in Chattogram and third highest 4,499 in Noakhali.
Among the 10 districts with highest river grabbers, there are Kushtia (3,134 grabbers), Barishal (2,272), Mymensingh (2,160), Faridpur (1,883), Barguna (1554), Natore (1,541) and Gopalganj (1,399), according to the statistics.
The five districts with lowest number of river grabbers are Lalmonirhat (13 grabbers), Khagrachhari (26), Rajbari (26), Rangpur (30) and Bogura (40).
The state minister said the lists of river grabbers, prepared by Deputy Commissioners of 64 districts, were made public on the website of National River Protection Commission (www.nrccb.gov.bd) and all district portals.
“All the deputy commissioners have already been directed to conduct drives against illegal grabbers of the rivers across the country through crush programmes in light of the lists,” he said.
The Junior Minister also informed the House that eviction drives have already been started in different districts including Kishoreganj, Manikganj and Jhalakati.
He said a total of 1,027 illegal structures were evicted from Dhaka and Narayaganj River port areas during special drives conducted for seven days (December 18-24 last year).
Khalid Mahmud said 21.5 acres land was reclaimed on river banks during the special drives.
In reply to another question from AL MP Benjir Ahmed (Dhaka-20), the state minister said six projects are now going on to increase navigability of the country’s rivers for smooth movement of vessels.
The projects include Capital dredging on 53 inland river routes (Phase-I: 24 River Routes); Digging of 12 important river routes; and Revive and development of navigability of old Brahmaputra, Dharla, Tulai and Punorbhoba rivers.