Home District 24,000 ponds disappeared in 40 years in Chattogram
District - June 5, 2023

24,000 ponds disappeared in 40 years in Chattogram

Ayub Ali, Chattogram: Traditional Chattogram for Ponds-Dighi-Reservoirs. Due to various reasons including increasing demand for land, these reservoirs are being filled and constructed. Ponds and reservoirs are gradually disappearing. Chattogram is becoming a hot city. Analyzing various statistics, it can be seen that 24,000 ponds and ponds have been filled in Chattogram in the last 40 years. It includes many traditional ponds.
Recently, Dewanji Pond Lane has been discussed more in Chattogram. As it is a minister’s residence, journalists also have to travel there to collect news. Dewanji pond lane in the name but that pond is no more. Although the name ‘Raja Pukur Lane’ of Andarkilla is correct, the establishment has been built by filling up the Raja Pond.
Chattogram’s traditional Baluar Dighi, which has become a wasteland of encroachment, pollution and garbage, now bears only a name. Another traditional Ashkar Dighi of Chattogram is also encroached upon. Multi-storied buildings are built around the pond. Rani Dighi of Enayet Bazar area, Padmapukur of Pahartali, Masjid Pond of Bara Miyar, Khaja Dighi of Halishahar, Munsi Pond of Chandgaon, Abdullah Saudagar Pond of Baklia, Dheva of Agrabad, Dammo Dighi of Agrabad, Colonel Hat Dighi, Hazari Dighi, Karbala Pond, Veluar are shrinking due to encroachment and pollution. Dighi, Kazir Dighi and Rampur are big ponds.
According to the statistics of 1981, there are about 25,000 ponds and reservoirs in Chittagong. Much of it has been lost to encroachment and pollution in a span of four decades. In 1991, a survey by the Department of Fisheries found the existence of 19,250 ponds. A survey of Chittagong Development Authority in 2006 found 4,523 ponds and reservoirs.
Mainly due to the abnormal increase in the price of land, the festival of pond-reservoir filling started in Chittagong from the nineties. Innumerable structures have been created by filling the pond overnight. As a result, the number of ponds and reservoirs in Chittagong city reached the hundred mark. In 2017, a study by Chittagong University PhD researcher Morshed Hossain Mollah found the existence of 1249 water bodies in Chittagong city.
In the past few years, the influential people have built structures by filling numerous small ponds. The Department of Environment sometimes recovers liability through raids and fines or lawsuits. There is no precedent of sentencing in the case of pond filling in Chittagong.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Environment Movement (Bapa) Chittagong, Professor ABM Abu Noman, a law teacher of Chittagong University told that if a person files a case against the filling of ponds under the Environment Act, he needs to take the prior permission of the Department of Environment. Even though the environmental court has been formed, there is no logistical support. No training is provided to those posted in Environment Courts. Finally, in such cases, including pond filling, in most cases people do not testify in court against the fillers. Those who litigated, settled later.
This law teacher said, those who fill ponds or cut mountains, those who pollute the environment are very influential. In most cases land grabbers are filling ponds and constructing structures. Another thing is that people are subtly changing the class of ponds. In this case, it is difficult to get a remedy if the land class pond is not written in the khatian.
The influential people first built small structures on the null land next to the pond. Later he slowly filled the pond next to the establishment. At one time he applied to the land office to change the class of land. If the land office people go there and see that there is no pond there, then they give a report in favor of changing the class. In this way the pond becomes ‘Nal’ or ‘Kila’ land.
He said, proper implementation of the law against pond-reservoir filling should be ensured. People’s representatives can play the most role for this. Even if public representatives come forward, the environment can be saved to a large extent. Moreover, there is no substitute for awareness among people. This city is ours. We live in this city. We also have the responsibility to protect this city.
An analysis of last few years’ data on pond filling shows that in most cases, the Environment Department has settled the liability by imposing fines. But the filling did not stop. Even the pond that was filled did not return. In addition, ponds and reservoirs are being filled in new ways. The 38th-century pond adjacent to the city’s West Baklia Bara Mia Mosque was started by the influential in early 2021 amid the Covid situation. Later, the Department of Environment called the concerned parties and held a hearing. Subsequently, the court decided to file a case against 20 defendants. Even though it has been established in the filled area, the further status of the case is not yet known.
At the beginning of 2021, the influential people filled three centuries-old ponds in the city’s Manshurabad. On January 11 of that year, the Department of Environment Chittagong held a hearing on Khan Saheb Abdul Hakim Mia Wakf Estate of Manshurabad. Colonel (retd.) Iqbal Shafi was charged environmental compensation of 80 thousand rupees for the crime of filling the local Gura pond. But the ponds did not return to their former position. Now these ponds have completely disappeared. Various structures have been built in the filled area of the pond.
Since the beginning of 2022, the influential have filled the dirt pond of Lal Mohammad Sipahi house in Muhuri Para area of North Agrabad of the city. At that time, the regional director of the Department of Environment also visited the site. He found the truth about filling the pond but could not save the pond from the powerful.
Since the beginning of 2022, the influential have filled the dirt pond of Lal Mohammad Sipahi house in Muhuri Para area of North Agrabad of the city. At that time, the regional director of the Department of Environment also visited the site. He found the truth about filling the pond but could not save the pond from the powerful.
On June 27 of that year, the influential people filled the official pond of the Zilla Parishad in the post office intersection of Chittagong’s Patia municipal headquarters and built a structure. A storehouse has been built at that place. Allegedly, the pond has been filled due to the lax attitude of the district council. At the end of October last year, influential people filled up a large part of the century-old sand father’s pond in Jalkoloni area of Ranggipara in Agrabad. Later, the Environment Department intervened but could not save the pond.
Last December, a centenary pond was filled in Kshetpal Bari area of Hathazari’s Fatiabad area. In that incident, the local upazila administration conducted a mobile court at the pond filling site and fined a person named Subal Dhar one lakh taka. But the filled pond did not return to its previous position. A government model mosque has been constructed by filling up half of the century-old large pond in Patia municipality Kaggi Para area of Chittagong. But there was a vacant lot nearby for acquisition.
Environmentalist Bir Muktijoddha is a retired professor of chemistry. Idris Ali told that the city’s ponds and reservoirs are being filled by the sons of land. Ashkar Dighi has narrowed. As far as the pond is concerned, its ecosystem is very poor. Dewanjee Pond is no longer there. The queen’s pond is long gone. There is no king pond. Even those that are there have our indifference. Environment department, stakeholders, political figures also have apathy. How can the pond be saved if all the contradictions?
He said, Pukurto can no longer speak. Karnaphuli went to court, got the verdict. Raito was not implemented. Our indifference is what is killing us. No pond, canal or hill is safe in this city.
Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) chief engineer Kazi Hasan bin Shams said, “We do not approve any plan in the pond category. We do not allow the filling of ponds. Legally there is no opportunity to fill any kind of reservoir. However, it is difficult to return a plan if the class of land is not mentioned in the BS Khatian, such as ponds, ponds or reservoirs. The location of the pond is marked on the detail area plan. It is important to protect ponds and water bodies to save our own future generations from environmental damage.
Mia Mahmumud Haque, deputy director of the Chittagong metropolitan office of the Department of Environment told, “We visit the scene as soon as we get any news about the pond filling. There is no precedent that I have delayed such news. Since 2022 we have done many cases. But in many cases, we get information only after the pond is filled, when there is a land dispute. Then there is no opportunity to protect or stop filling the pond. All in all, pond protection is very important. That’s why people should be aware first.

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