It is frustrating to note that despite serious concern raised by environmentalists, repeated pieces in this newspaper on river encroachment, physical action against encroachers by the city authorities and other government bodies to deter such activities appears to have had no effect on the river grabbers.
As per the latest order of the court, it is completely prohibited to construct and install physical structures and fill up low land which falls within 50 metres of the river bank. Also, it is mandatory to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment and get it approved by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change before going for a large-scale development project in the country. But a section of encroachers pay little heed to these obligations.This newspaper ran a story on how a major river fell prey to an omnivorous encroacher. Serious allegations have come up in the report against a well-known business conglomerate – the Meghna Group. It has continued the river grabbing spree for years despite the government's drive to protect rivers in the country. The business group has already taken hold of a 2-km stretch of the bank of the Meghna River.
The grabber group not only encroached upon the river but also illegally occupied nearby land belonging to local people through document forgery and intimidation. A century-old market in the area, which was the meeting place of thousands of people, has also fallen prey to the grabbers.
Local residents do not dare to protest against the influential grabber groups, which threaten them of lodging false cases and physically abuse them. The local administration has also turned into their hands in the grabbers and, as a result, the desperate protests of the victims go in vain. In this situation, the groups continue to strengthen its position on the grabbed land with the erection of boundary walls, factory buildings and other permanent settlements.
The activities of the land grabber are going on in contradiction to the government policy to save rivers. It is worrying that being a large business group, the Meghna Group is setting a bad example for hundreds of businessmen in the country that they can grab rivers as well. Thus, it is urgent to evict the grabber without wasting any time.