Flow of the water lands are affected in six upazilas
BWDB and district administration in Kushtia have listed around 3,000 land grabbers who are responsible for river and canal encroachment in six upazilas.
In April this year, Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) and officials for land related services in the upazilas made the list following a visit to the encroached lands of the rivers and canals.
BWDB reported, at least 2,921 grabbers built their houses and shops on various canals (some of which were used for irrigation projects) and also on the lands of river Padma, Gorai and Hisna in the six upazila.
The district administration received a list of 400 grabbers along with the BWDB's one, said Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) Muhammad Obaidur Rahman.
Canals and river banks that are encroached in upazilas include: Bheramara, Kushtia Sadar, Khoksa, Kumarkhali, Daulatpur and Mirpur
On a visit to the Hisna river area in the Bheramara upazila this correspondent found both sides of the river filled with shops and houses, paddy was cultivated in some places of the river.
Locals said a look at some places of the present state of the Hisna river shows no signs of it being a river at all.
Land officials provided lists of 200 people involved in land grabbing on the Hisna river. Some even built brick houses after encroaching the river lands.
A local Khalilur Rahman Maju said: "I take a walk along the bank of river Padma and Atrai on a regular basis. My heart aches seeing the level of the pollution and encroachment."
Executive Engineer Pijush Krishna Kundu of BWDB said: “Canals in the district have become narrow. We sent a notice to the illegal grabbers.
“The process of evicting the grabbers while digging the canals (to widen) is underway,” he added.
Police have evicted at least 30 illegal infrastructures from the bank of Garai river in the Kushtia sadar upazilla.
Deputy Commissioner (DC ) in Kushtia ordered the three hour eviction drive in the Thanapara dock area, under the Kushtia-Haripur bridge.
On May 18, Upazilla Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Zubayer Hossain Chowdhury, led the drive with numerous law enforcement officials.
Kushtia Deputy Commissioner (DC) Aslam Hossain said: “We have started our drives to evict the grabbers of rivers and canals.
“After discussing the matter with local leaders, politicians and law enforcers the drive was conducted according to the list we have.
“Necessary steps will be taken to keep the flow of water normal in the rivers and canals,” the DC added.
When asked about the May 18 drive, UNO Zubayer commented: “A warning notice was sent to every illegal grabber in the area ten days before our drive, but no one was able to show us any papers.
"We have demolished their illegally built houses and will be keeping a close eye that the lands that remain free."