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Grabbing of canal in Dhaka city : Part of Ramchandrapur Canal still remains under Ulab University

Grabbing of canal in Dhaka city : Part of Ramchandrapur Canal still remains under Ulab University

Staff Correspondent

Once there was an uninterrupted flow in the capital's Ramchandrapur canal. The canal was connected to Buriganga River through West Katasuri of Mohammadpur, Dhaka starting from Sat Masjid housing area. Another part is connected to the same river through West Dhanmondi housing in Basila area behind the Rayerbazar barrage. But with the passage of time, the canal has narrowed, some places have been filled with sand, or some illegal structures have been built. At many places, parts of the canal are now dead, having become garbage dumps for locals. The canal that used to have waves is no longer full of water, it has become a pile of dirt. In particular, a north-facing branch of the Ramchandrapur Canal is now extinct.

On December 31, 2020, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) took over the responsibility of all the canals under its jurisdiction including Ramchandrapur from Dhaka Wasa through the Ministry of Local Government. Since then, DNCC has focused on rescuing the Ramchandrapur Canal.

In Khalpara, the work of setting up pillars for demarcation along with the eviction of illegal structures is going on for quite some time. Re-excavation of the canal fill is also underway. Recently, the animal farm of Sadiq Agro, which was built on illegal land rent on the canal in Saat Masjid housing area, was evicted. So the Ramchandrapur canal comes into discussion again.

Not only the animal farms, but also the slums, rickshaw garages and local political offices built over canals were vacated. As a result, the local residents hope that the canal will return to its previous form soon.

But the fact is, the northern part of the canal is now obliterated. To understand that there was a canal here, one has to enter a private university located in Ramchandrapur.

Some parts of the extinct canals survive quietly inside Ulab.

At one time a part of the Ramchandrapur Canal ran far north of the capital. But at present there is no way of understanding that there was a course of the canal in this direction. That part of the canal is now obliterated due to government roads, housing projects and illegal encroachment by locals.

To understand that a branch of Ramchandrapur flowed through the northern part, one has to go to the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, where a fragment of the northern part of Ramchandrapur still survives.

Damping the two banks and keeping the water clean is being done by the efforts of the university authorities. Besides, a boundary wall has also been provided on its own initiative to prevent illegal encroachment of the existing canal. However, illegal houses and shops have been built in the outer part of this boundary, which do not even have a plot number. And because of these boundary walls, the occupation of the occupiers has been confined to a few places.

According to locals and squatters, due to the presence of this boundary wall, some of the lost parts of the canal still survive. Otherwise, the remaining part of the surviving canal would have gradually disappeared.

Going to the surface, it can be seen that Mohammad Rafiq has rented five rooms around the boundary wall given by the university authorities to protect the canal. He doesn't live here. Maintains a house located in Nabinagar Housing. Due to staying in the same area for a long time, about 10 years ago, several places were filled with sand on the bank of the canal. 5 years ago he built a house here.
When asked about building a house, he said, 'My house is on the canal site.

The canal went far along the northern side. Later this canal was gradually filled by many people. This is because many parts of the road leading into the housing have been filled with this canal. So I also filled the corner of Meena Bazaar with sand. About 40 kathas are occupied by different people, which actually belong to the government. I will release mine if the government wants.

He said, "Earlier there was a godown in Meena Bazar, then a university was built on the other side of the canal. Then this wall was raised. Due to this wall, many people could not fill the canal anymore. Those who succeeded earlier are building houses and shops.

About 60 years old Dulal Mia living in Nabinagar Housing gave the same information. He told Bengali Tribune, "I can't say exactly which canal and which one is occupied." If the government pulls the map, it will get a lot of special land where there are now many big buildings. However, there was a canal through here, a part of which can be seen if you go inside the boundary of Meena Bazar (many locals call this part Meena Bazar instead of Ulab). Some parts of the canal are still there.
In this regard, the registrar of Ulab University.

Lt Col. Faizul Islam (retd.) said that since the university is located on the western side of the canal across the main road. So it became necessary to provide a bridge over the canal to come to the university. However, large sewage pipes were installed below to ensure proper flow of water. But unfortunately the eastern part of the canal has been filled due to various reasons. And that's why there is no water flow in the north side of the canal. Besides, there was a cow farm nearby which has been vacated. The wastes from these farms used to pollute the water of the canal. Since there is no flow of water and the sewage is spoiling the water in the retained canal, we are forced to provide a temporary dam which can be removed at any time.

Meanwhile, the authority of the university said that the part of Ramchandrapur Canal where the eviction operation was carried out by DNCC is not occupied by ULAB. They say that ULAB has been established in its own borders. ULAB is well inland from where the pillars demarcating the canal are placed. However, Ulab is ready to help with any need for canal renovation.

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