ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF RAILWAY LAND
Eviction drive slows downShahin Akhter
Bangladesh Railway’s drive to evict squatters and other illegal occupants from its lands by the railway tracks from Narayanganj to Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka seems to run out of steam.
The drive has remained stalled for three days because of weekly holidays and major reshuffle in the ministry concerned, railway officials have said.
The railway on September 8 launched the drive as the then railway minister Obaidul Quader urged people to move out of the lands by the railway tracks from Narayanganj to Shahjalal Airport by September 7.
He urged those still living in slums and houses on the railway’s land to move five feet away from the tracks on both the sides as it was very risky for them to live so close to the railway lines.
During spot visits, illegal structures were found as usual on the brink of the railway tracks at Karwan Bazar and Tejgaon.
Halima, a slum dweller at Tejgaon, who has made her shanty just beside the railway track, said they did not hear anything about the drive.
Hasib, a vegetable seller at Karwan Bazar, said the railway’s officials often visited here, which did not change anything.
‘We have already built our shops here which cannot be removed,’ he added.
Bangladesh Railways’ divisional estate officer in Dhaka Ahmedul Haque told New Age on Sunday that they stopped the drive because of weekly holidays.
Due to changes in cabinet — communications minister Obailul Quader has been freed of his additional responsibility of the railway ministry which has been given to Mujibul Haque — the drive could not take place on Sunday, he said.
‘We have not yet started the drive at Narayanganj, Khilgaon, Malibagh and Airport areas,’ said Ahmedul Haque.
During the six-day drive the railway evicted about 2,000 floating and temporary structures close to the railway tracks from Jurain to Gendaria and Tejgaon areas, he informed, adding that the drive would continue for an indefinite period.
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