State-run housing authority RAJUK started dismantling the structures built illegally along the lake in Dhaka’s posh Gulshan area in line with the High Court’s order of January 25 to demarcate the lake and free it from illegal encroachers. Monday, Dhaka, Bangladesh, February 6, 2012.
On the first day, some 120 shanties of the slum along the boundary wall of Water Development Board – an isolated small slum near the Gulshan-Banani Bridge. Low income people started living here over a decade ago.
Following the initiation of the drive by RAJUK flanked by police, dwellers of the nearby slum better known as “Karail Slum” drown in panic of eviction since a part of the slum falls on the lake.
Karail slum was built in 1978 where some 125,000 people – mostly day labourers, rickshaw-pullers, drivers, housemaids, garments workers and other low-wage earners stay.
The slum was erected on some 90 acres land on the abandoned land owned by the government agencies—Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited, Public Works department and Ministry of Science and Technology. Later on, the area has been expanded on to the lake.
The day-long drive on the west side of the lake was the second RAJUK move in five months to free the stretch of illegal occupancy.
With the presence of the RAJUK eviction team in the morning, the slum dwellers themselves started dismantling the structures.
The operation would resume on February 9 to evict other illegal settlements encroaching the lake towards south up to Mohakhali, when the part of Karail Slum that falls on the lake might be dismantled.
Tension prevailed in the slum area since the people did not know who are going to be evicted and who not. Most of them have started to find an alternative place as the government is yet to take the responsibility of ensuring housing to these poor people of the slums—accounts to some 4 million in the city.
Moreover, some people having rented shanties along the lake have begun removing their belongings including the construction materials.
Shanties in the area are built by wood, bamboo and tin.
The High Court on January 25 directed the government to demarcate the lake as per Revisional Survey (RS) records and remove the illegal structures from it in the next two months.
If any portion of the Korail slum falls within the lake’s territory it would be removed as per the order.
The court also asked the government to submit a compliance report by March 30.
So far, neither the government nor the court, unfortunately, has said anything about the rehabilitation of the people who came to Dhaka from different areas of the country for job.