Slum dewllers continue to sufferFerdous Ara
People evicted from the slums around the Gulshan Lake in the capital have been passing their days in the open, with no government help reaching them since their eviction and with no step taken yet for their rehabilitation.
Continual rain only multiplied their sufferings, they said.
Drenched in rain water and mud, men, women and children are passing their days and nights under the open sky at what were once Karail Basti, Beder Basti, Jheelpar Basti and Beltali Basti at Mahakhali around the Gulshan Lake.
They said they felt utterly helpless losing their livelihoods and shelter.
Many of them were seen using sacks or polythene sheets to protect them from rain at the spots where once they had their shanties.
Some of them were seen to gather bamboo sticks and broken tins to build their houses and shops which were demolished during the drive on April 4.
The district administration of Dhaka dismantled and removed thousands of shanties and other structures on government land in the area.
The drive removed nearly 100 rickshaw garages, many tea stalls, grocery shops, phone fax shops, informal primary schools, community based clinics and toilets on less than a day’s notice said displaced the slum dwellers.
The district administration conducted the seven-hour drive at Gulshan-Mohakhali Wireless Gate, TNT School Ground and Karail Slum, near the Gulshan Lake.
They said the drive was conducted to recover the land of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited.
The district administration’s executive magistrate Selim Hossain Bhuiyan, who led the drive, told New Age that the eviction drive was conducted following an order from the High Court.
Tareq Mirja, office assistant of a private company, told New Age, ‘I have sent my wife, five children and my parents to my village in Chandpur as I had no alternative.’
He said hundreds of others, who had been evicted, told him they had nowhere.
Rokeya, who works as domestic help in a Banani D Block house, said that the government had made them completely helpless by demolishing the slums.
‘We lived in this slum for seven years as tenants,’ she said.
‘All the laws and harsh measures are only for the poor to make them poorer,’ she said.
Young rickshaw-puller Sabuj Miah, who was busy with his son putting up a structure, said he was making these shops as those were the only way to earn bread for his family.
Saloon owner Rana said family members of his brothers had been sent elsewhere in search of new source of livelihood and shelter near the Kamalapur Basti.
On May 2, the High Court summoned Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha chairman and the BTCL managing director to be present at the court on May 14 to explain why they had not removed all the illegal structures on Gulshan Lake in the capital as per its earlier directive, said executive magistrate Selim Hossain Bhuiyan.
They would have to give their reasons before the court for their failure to free the lake completely from encroachers, he said.
Following HC’s order in January 25, Rajuk evicted the slum dwellers from the lake area but has not taken any steps regarding the buildings standing there, the HC bench said, adding that the court had ordered removal of all structures from the lake area.
On April 15, the HC directed Rajuk and the BTCL to demolish all the illegal structures on Gulshan Lake within 15 days and asked them to submit a compliance report by May 2.
After a report was published in Bangla daily Prothom Alo, the court issued a suo moto order upon the authorities concerned, including Rajuk’s chairman and BTCL managing director, to explain why they should not be directed to protect the lake, said magistrate Selim.
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