The much-talked-about eviction drive to free canals from encroachers was started in the port city on Tuesday.
Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) started the drive in cooperation with the Bangladesh Army.The drive was carried out on the bank of Rajakhali Khal near Kalpolok Residential Area and some 26 illegal structures including building and tin-roofed houses were evicted on the first day.
The drive was started under the mega project titled ‘Canal re-excavation, expansion, renovation and development for addressing the waterlogging in the Chattogram city.’
The drive will be carried out on the banks of 13 canals among the total 57 in the first phase.
Some 1,576 illegal structures including shanties, tin-roofed houses and buildings were identified on the banks of the 13 canals.
CDA Special Magistrate Saiful Alam Chowdhury, Executive Engineer and Ahmed Moinuddin and Bangladesh Army 34 Engineer Construction Brigade Lieutenant Colonel and Project Director Md Shah Ali were present during the drive that continued for six hours from 9:00am.
The CDA Magistrate Saiful Alam Chowdhury said the structures were developed without permission from the CDA and grabbing the land of canal.According to CDA Engineering department, consultancy firm Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS) conducted survey on the canals.
A total of 123 acres of land of the canals were encroached and 1,576 illegal structures were developed on the banks, said the sources.
The CDA officials rushed to the eviction site in the morning and asked the residents to leave the houses with their belongings before starting the drive.
The CDA Executive Engineer and Project Director Ahmed Moinuddin said the encroachers didn’t remove the structures despite giving repeated reminders.
Some one kilometre area of the Rajakhali Khal was grabbed and 26 illegal structures were developed encroaching seven to eight feet areas of the canal, he said.
“Width of the canal will have to be widened for ensuring smooth flow of water,” he said adding that drives will be carried out on the banks of other canals gradually.
Lieutenant Colonel and Project Director Md Shah Ali said protection wall will be constructed on the both sides of the canals to save them from encroachment further.
Mentionable, the executive committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the mega project involving Tk 5,616 crore on August 9 in 2017.
CDA and the Army signed a memorandum of understanding for carrying out works under the project on April 9 last year.
The Army started works of the project formally with removing soil and garbage from the Chashma Khal (canal) in the city’s Sholoshahar Gate No-2 area on April 28 of the same year.
According to the DPP, some 528,214 cubic-metre soil and 420,000 cubic-metre mud will be dredged from 36 canals under the project.
Besides, three water-bodies will be dug, 10.77 kilometre side drains, 176,000 metre retaining wall, 85 km road and 48 PC girder bridges will be constructed to address the waterlogging.
On May 4, Director General (DG) Brigadier General Ahmed Tanvir Mazher Siddiqui of the 34 Engineer Construction Brigade at a view exchange meeting with journalists said the canals of the city will be freed from encroachers to address the long-drawn waterlogging crisis.
After starting the work, the Army removed a total of 12588,000 cubic-feet (cft) waste from the canals and drains last year and 4200,000 cft this year, informed Brig Gen Tanvir.
The permanent solution to the crisis cannot be ensured until the important canals are made clear for smooth flow of rainwater and regulators at canal mouths are set up for controlling the tidal water, he observed then.