The campaigners of the Chattogram River and Canal Protection Movement on Sunday demanded the eviction of 1,900 illegal establishments, including under-construction concrete-structure of Karnaphuli Ship Builders Limited, on the bank of the Karnaphuli River within the next three months.
Otherwise, all the jetties of the Chattogram Port Authority, which has been assigned to protect the river, will be shut, the activists warned as they organised a human chain at the Sadarghat area of the port city.
Hundreds of boatmen and local people joined the campaigners. Protesters also called for the renovation of the century-old Sadarghat jetties there.
"Mughal Subahdar Islam established the Chattogram city by building the Sadarghat first back in 1666. The Chattogram Port Authority now does not care a damn about the historically important infrastructure. The Sadarghat jetties are now collapsing and causing danger for locals. Moreover, illegal establishments near the area grow day by day," said Aliur Rahman, general secretary of the movement.
Individuals capitalised on the illegal infrastructures, he added.
"Karnaphuli Ship Builders is now occupying the river bank by dumping sacks of sand and building permanent structures. The authorities are silent here. What does it mean then? Doesn't our administration hold power or do they want the death of the river?"
He warns that if their demands remain unfulfilled they will go for tougher actions.
Blaming public representatives for the worst situation, the general secretary said many took advantage by occupying the river, but none cared about nature.
"The river is now at the death door. It is being polluted by many sources. The biodiversity is at the edge."
Chattogram River and Canal Protection Movement President Chowdhury Farid said the Chattogram district administration remains inactive after evicting only 300 out of 2,181 illegal establishments on Karnaphuli River while the High Court ordered to evict all of them.
"The width of the river has come down to 410 metres from 930 metres in 2000. We should pay serious attention towards the river," he added.