01 August 2011

Tension over construction of shipbreaking yard on a canal:

CHITTAGONG, JULY 31: A shipbreaking yard is allegedly being constructed by filling up a canal named Mukim Afzal Khal at the shore of Shonaichhari union under Sitakunda upazila in Chittagong. Our Sitakunda correspondent Sekander Hossain reports that a tense situation is prevailing at the area over the incident. The canal discharges water from four villages of the area. Locals fear a bloody confrontation between the shipyard owner and residents may occur any time.

The owner of Sultana Shipbreaking yard Rashedul Islam Rumi procured a huge area of land on the shore of Ghoramara village in Shonaichari union and leased some other land from Chittagong Deputy Commissioner’s office to construct a shipyard one and half years ago. But they are yet to obtain permission from the Directorate of Environment to construct the shipyard.

They have already constructed a shipyard at the area occupying the embankment of Water Development Board and now started constructing another on the southern side of the earlier one which required extra piece of land. To meet the requirement, the company allegedly started filling up the Mukim Afzal canal flowing just beside the shipyard.

Nritiyananda Jaladas, a resident of the area, told The Independent that more than two hundred fishermen families are dependent on the canal as they anchor their boats on the canal to unload fishes and sell them to market.

The filling up of the canal will hinder the life and livelihood of the fishermen living in that area, he feared.

Mohiuddin, another resident of the area, said that rain water of at least 4 villages flows down to the sea through this canal and the filling up of the canal might cause water logging in that area. 

He also said that residents of the area had already informed the concerned local administration about the illegal filling up of the canal. The residents are now planning to stage demonstration to resist the illegal filling up if the yard owner does not refrain, he added.

Chairman of Shonaichhari union parishad Nuruddin Mohammad Jahangir Chowdhury told The Independent that he had heard about the alleged filling up of the canal and if the allegation is proved he would request the Directorate of Environment (DoE) to take legal action.

On the other hand the manager of the shipbreaking yard rejected the allegation of filling up the canal and said that the authority is constructing yard on their purchased land. But he could not give any satisfactory reply while asked how they were constructing 2 yards taking permission of one.

Assistant Commissioner (Land) of Sitakunda upazila Tanvir Gazi told The Independent that he had not received any complaint about the illegal filling up of Mukim Afzal canal. If we get any complaint we will look into the matter, he added.

Assistant Director of DoE, Chittagong, Tazminur Rahman told The Independent that the approval of the alleged shipbreaking yard might have been pending. He also said that he would look into the matter and take legal action if the allegation is proved.

It may be mentioned here that more than 80 shipbreaking yards grew up on the shore of Bhatiary, Shonaichhari and Kumira unions of Sitakunda upazila in Chittagong. In 2009 at least 20 shipyards have been developed at the areas occupying the embankment of WDB and destroying the coastal forest and causing huge threat to the biodiversity of the areas.

Source: The Independent. 1 August 2011

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