National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) on Wednesday ordered the closure of the Karnaphuli dry dock built on the south bank of the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram's Anwara upazila, for encroaching on the river bank.
The Deputy Commissioner of Chattogram and Anwara Upazila Nirbahi Officer have been directed to comply with the order within the next one week and submit a report to the commission.
NRCC Chairman Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury, at a meeting on the encroachment and pollution of the rivers and water bodies of the district, said, "The process is underway to constitute a special committee to mark the illegal structures built by occupying the land of the Karnaphuli River."
Karnaphuli Ship Builders constructed the country's first dry dock by occupying 21 acres of land on the south banks in River Karnaphuli in Badalpura area of Anwara. Moreover, the dry dock authorities have also cut down over a hundred trees on the river bank for the construction of the container terminal they started next to the dry dock from Saturday.
Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury said, "After visiting the spot and analysing various data, we found that some establishments, including the Karnaphuli dry dock, have been built next to the Bangladesh Marine Academy, by occupying the land of the river."
Besides, many establishments have also been built by occupying the land of the river. A special committee will be formed to identify the illegal occupants, he added.
"We, along with the expert committee, will review the issues thoroughly and decide how to recover the occupied land," the Commission Chairman said.
Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury said the width of the Karnaphuli River is continuously decreasing. As 95% of the country's export-import activities are conducted through the river, if the flow or navigability of this river is affected in any way then the economy of Bangladesh will suffer greatly.
He further said, "We will evict all the structures which the committee will mark as illegal. Besides, we will take proper measures for the Karnaphuli dry dock closure."
Hunger strike to save the river
More than 200 Sampan majhis (boatmen) held a hunger strike at the estuary of the Chaktai Canal and Karnaphuli River on Wednesday from 6am to 2pm, demanding protection of the Karnaphuli.
Five organisations, including Chattogram River and Canal Protection Movement and Federation of Karnaphuli River Sampan Majhi Kalyan Samiti, rendered their solidarity to the strike.
Aliur Rahman, general secretary of the Chattogram River and Canal Protection Movement, said that in 2021, the commission ordered the removal of all illegal structures from the Karnaphuli river bank within two months after receiving a copy of the Supreme Court order in this regard. But the orders have not been executed yet.
"We are in doubt over the execution of today's order issued by the National River Conservation Commission," he added.