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Attack on BIWTA team: Five hurt

FE Report | July 12, 2019 00:00:00

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority carrying out a drive against illegal structures near a crematorium on the bank of the Buriganga on Thursday — FE Photo

Five officials of BIWTA were injured in an attack by the local people during an eviction drive on the banks of the River Buriganga in the city on Thursday.

Police arrested three persons identified as Abul Bashar Molla, Iqbal Ahmed and Ranjit Sarkar in connection with the attack. Later, they were jailed for three months.

The incident happened in Shashanghat area around 11:00 am when a team of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) was carrying out the eviction drive.

Local contractor named Ibrahim Ahmed Ripon along with labourers carried out the attack on the officials.

"We served them notice to remove their illegal structures built on the banks of the river Buriganga. But they (river encroachers) ignored our warning," joint director of BIWTA AKM Arif Uddin told the media.

Over one hundred labourers, led by Ibrahim, tried to resist the eviction drive, he added.

At one stage, he said, they attacked them, leaving BIWTA magistrate Mostafizur Rahman and four other officials injured.

He, however, said the eviction drive remained stopped for several hours following the attack, but they restarted the drive in the afternoon.

Despite facing resistance, BIWTA razed 70 structures built illegally on the banks of the river Buriganga.

"We won't stop our ongoing eviction drive despite attacks by musclemen. We are determined to dismantle all structures built illegally on the banks of the River Buriganga," Mr Arif said.

Hearing the news about the attack, additional police force from Dhaka Metropolitan Police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.

However, police could not arrest Ibrahim, the mastermind of the attack.

A case was filed against them with the police station on charge of preventing the government officials from carrying out their duties.

BIWTA, which is under the Ministry of Shipping (MoS), conducted the first phase of the eviction drive from January 29 to February 20 following instructions of the government.

After a short break, it restarted the drive from the current month to pull down illegal structures along the banks of the Buriganga.

During the drive from January 29 to April 04, it knocked down 3,575 illegal structures and reclaimed 91 acres of land on the banks of the Buriganga and Turag rivers.

The rivers-Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakshya-are called the lifeline of the capital city. But grabbing, pollution and erosion have put the existence of these rivers at stake.

BIWTA will construct 110-kilometre walkway on the recovered lands of the Buriganga and Turag.

The MoS has taken a number of projects to give new lease of life to the country's several rivers whose existence is at risk.

Of them, 12 projects are going on to dredge 8,000- kilometre waterway of 178 rivers.


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