Six more months to free two sides of rivers

The government got six more months to remove all structures on the two sides of the rivers Balu, Turag, Buriganga and Sitalakhya which surround Dhaka city, in a direction from the High court.

In response to a petition by the government the court set the new deadline. The petition for being given two more years to execute the HC’s directives to construct boundary walls and walkways along the rivers and plant trees in rows by demolishing all illegal structures without discrimination and removing the piled-up dirt and debris by November 30.

The demolition drive is going on but it could not be completed by the deadline as they could not dismantle the privately-owned jetties unless viable alternatives are set up in place, he said. If the jetties are removed right now, the supply of foodstuff and other goods will be hampered as about 70 per cent of the local and imported goods reach the capital through the rivers, he added.

The honourable court asked the deputy commissioners of Dhaka, Narayanganj, Munshiganj and Gazipur to report to the Supreme Court’s registrar every three months on the progress of the eviction drive.

In response to public interest litigation writ petition filed by the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, on 25 June, 2009 the honourable court issued a set of directives to protect the rivers from being polluted and encroached upon.
According to cadastral surveys (C.S) the government has already completed demarcation of the rivers’ boundaries by and declared the four rivers as ‘ecologically critical areas’, attorney-general told the court.

The rights organization’s counsel opposed the petition for extension of time. ‘The attorney-general, who had earlier spoken up for the protection of our rivers, has sought the time to serve the purpose of the businessmen,’ he claimed.
He also alleged that the structures set up by small businessmen on the rivers’ banks were evicted, but those owned by big industrialists were not demolished.
According to rights organization ‘The court has sent a message to the government that it will have to remove all structures, except public utility services like launch terminals, from the riverbanks today or tomorrow.’

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