At least 601 persons have built houses, permanent structures by grabbing rivers and embankments in Rajshahi districts, which was recently released by Water Development Board, Rajshahi and Assistant Commissioners of Charghat and Paba upazilas of the district. The reports were prepared in accordance with the directives of Deputy Commissioner of Rajshahi as per the demand of Jatiya Nadi Raskha Commission( National River Protection Commission).
However, Godagari upazila of the district also being an erosion prone, riverine area, Assistant Commissioner(land) of Godagari Taslima Khatun has mentioned in a letter to the Deputy Commissioner that there is no river grabber in the upazila.
According to the reports, WDB in Rajshahi has mentioned the names, addresses and particulars of the grabbed infrastructures by 580 persons. All these persons have built infrastructures by grabbing the land inside the Padma river and the embankments beside the river. Charghat Land office has submitted names and particulars of grabbers of Boral river by 18 persons while Bagha Land office has mentioned three persons' names as grabbers of the river Boral.
No names of grabbers of the land of river Padma have also been mentioned in two upazilas.
However, concerned sources said the actual number of river-land grabbers would surpass the number as those are mentioned in the lists.
WDB in Rajshahi has supplied a list of the illegal river-land grabbers of Haripur to Nabaganga areas of Paba upazila and the names and particulars of river grabbers of Harupur, Nabinagar, Kesbopur, Bulanpur, Sreerampur, Dargapara, Baje Kajla, Satbaria under Rajshahi city corporation and Paba upazila and upto Shyampur of Kantakhali Municipality area.
According to the list, 25 persons at Haripur area, 52 persons at Nabaganga area, 51 at Harupur, 34 at Nabinagar, 12 at Kesobpur, 45 at Bulanpur, 37 at Sreerampur, 32 in Dargapara, 188 at Baje Kajla, 76 at Sarbaria and 16 at Shyampur area have occupied, Fillup River and embankment beside the Padma River and constructed infrastructures there.
Most of such infrastructures are semi-pucca or tin made houses, shops, rickshaw-auto-rickshaw garages, clubs, cow sheds, political party offices and personal offices of local influential persons and political leaders. The last number of the list contains the name of the Office of Ayesha Akhter, Reserved Female Councillor of wards 7,8 and 9 of Kantakhali Municipality. It has been built by occupying embankment land of Shyampur area.
Female councillor Aysesha Akhter in this connection said,' I made this office out of fancy at my own cost. I just sit in this office for a while after the evening and to talk to the local people. I informed the WDB that I would evict the office whenever necessary'.
Elsewhere on and below the embankment of the river Padma flowing beside Rajshahi city, land sharks are active to fill up river and embankment side to make infrastructures there. In Borokuthi area, an influential person has built a multistoried building by grabbing river-land and embankment. In busy Alupatty area, river-land is being grabbed by dumping rubbish and broken pieces of bricks. Some workers busy in dumping the area informed influential ruling party Ward Councillor Abdul Hamid Sarker Tekon has employed them to fill the river-land up. He ( Tekon) will build a restaurant at the occupied river land.
Ward Councillor Abdul Hamid Tekon in this connection said, ' In fact, I am not filling up the land. The construction works are continuing in various places of the city and there is no place to dump the trash or garbages that is why the contractors were dumping those refuses and waste materials beside the river. By filling up the riverside, people will also get a place to walk, That is why I do not resist to fill it up.'
WDB Executive Engineer Shafiqul Islam Sheikh informed,' The river and the embankment grabbers have been identified and a list of those grabbers have been submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Rajshahi and the next step will be taken as per further instruction from there.'
Deputy Commissioner of Rajshahi Abdul Jalil informed,' National River Protection Commission has sought a list of river grabbers from us and we have supplied it to the commission. Now, it requires a huge amount of money to evict those illegal occupiers. Due to constraint of fund, we can not conduct the eviction drive. We have also written to NRPC seeking fund and the eviction drive will be started with the availability of the fund.'