BIWTA must be transparent, accountable in its eviction drives
It is disturbing to note that the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has received over 100 allegations of corruption and irregularities relating to its recent eviction drives.
Reportedly some 20 major illegal structures alongside the city's riverbanks were not removed during the drive due to underhand dealings. However, the BIWTA authorities have formed a seven-member committee to identify the illegal structures that were not removed.
Hundreds of illegal structures have sprung up on the banks of the river Buriganga during the past few years. Many of the grabbers have constructed multi-storeyed buildings while reaping accommodative and financial benefits. Many of these illegal structures are responsible for choking and polluting our rivers. Successive governments have failed to rein in the encroachers. Many of the river grabbers have connections with the powerful quarters and hence they are getting away with the crime. Moreover, a section of deceitful officials are helping the river bank grabbers in exchange for bribes.
The Buriganga River Restoration Project was taken to revive the Buriganga and other rivers surrounding the capital city from pollution. The project was scheduled to dredge 162 kilometre area of rivers to bring water from the Jamuna River for increasing the water flow of the Buriganga during the lean season so that increased flow in the latter could push forward the pollutants.
But dredging alone will not free the Buriganga from the scourge of pollution unless the industrial wastes now released freely by the industrial units located in the river's banks are not checked. Scores of industries yet continues to dump toxic and hazardous effluents into the river every day. It must be stopped.
There should be transparency in the drive against illegal structures. Zero tolerance should be maintained regarding demolition or eviction of unauthorized structures built by persons irrespective of their political affiliations. It is high time for the government to take legal action against the land grabbers to protect the country's rivers and water bodies in the national interest.
The authorities concerned should ensure that the rivers are fully dredged, illegal encroachments on them ended and the laws strictly enforced to prevent abuse of waterways. Most importantly, it is also time to identify and reprimand the dubious BIWTA officials, those who have failed to take correct action against illegal establishments.
The probe committee should either suspend or sack these officials while clean up the state-run organisation free of all corrupt elements.