Wholesale grabbing of wetlands


Friday, 18 July 2014

Several housing companies have grabbed vast tracts of farm and lowland
in Borura near Khilkhet. They have filled up the land with sand and put
up fences around the plots. The aggressive land-grabbing strategy
adopted by these developers, however, may result in earthquakes and loss
of the area’s ecological balance. During a recent visit, it was found
that a number of housing companies have filled up the low and farmlands,
paying little heed to the Lowland Protection Act.

“It’s a flood flow zone. A large amount of water gets drained by such
low areas and canals. It’s a natural conservator of water. Besides,
farmers used to produce huge quantities of paddy and other crops on this
land. But the whole area has been turned into a desert after the land
developers filled up the land with sand for building concrete houses,”
Rafiqul Islam, a local green activist, told The Independent.
As per
the law to protect lowlands or farmlands, any private land owner or even
the government should ask for permission from the relevant authorities
before putting up structures on such lands, Dhaka deputy commissioner
Tofazzal Hossain Miah told The Independent.
“Land grabbers have long
been destroying the country’s farm and  lowlands, which is a big
environmental problem. District administrations can take action against
those encroachers who only grab government land. In case of private
land, we refer to the Department of Environment (DoE) for taking
action,” said Miah.
“Even lowlands or farmlands owners need
permission from the DoE before changing its shape,” he added. However,
the land ministry is yet to complete land zoning, thereby delaying the
enactment of a law to protect farmlands and lowlands. This is leading to
unplanned urbanisation, which, in turn, may have possible repercussions
on the country’s food security.
Abu Naser Khan, chairman of Poribesh
Bachao Andolan (POBA), said the whole nation is facing several
environmental problems, including ecological imbalance. “Greedy
developers have been constructing buildings by filling up lowlands and
farmlands. It may result in earthquakes. It’s also affecting the
environment. It’s the high time to protect our farm and lowlands from
the clutch of greedy developers,” he added.