Ex-chairman spreading propaganda to make commission controversial

A controversy has begun over the list of river grabbers. Former river protection commission chairman Mujibur Rahman Hawlader has brought about various allegations against current chairman Manzur Ahmed Chowdhury over the list of river grabbers and their protection. Prothom Alo has talked to both of them.

Chairman Manzur Ahmed Chowdhury

Q :

You are cancelling the list to protect grabbers. What will you say about this allegation of former chairman of river protection commission, Mujibur Rahman Hawlader?

There is no question of cancelling the list. There is a list of 68,000 river grabbers across the country on our website. We are working to make the list complete and accurate through a project. A complete list is being made correcting mistakes through the administration concerned. The allegation of the former chairman is not true. He has been saying all these with a specific motive to make the commission controversial.

Q :

What will you say there are allegations that the list is being corrected to save your relatives?

The survey that was carried out at Arial Khan river near my home was not complete one. I have talked to the technical team of the survey and came to know that there was a mistake in the system of survey. There is no complete list of who the grabbers are there. If any of my relatives are among the grabbers and it is proved, I must include their names. Mujibur Rahman Hawlader is spreading this propaganda with an ill motive.

Q :

When the current list will be finalised and published?

The corrected list of three districts has been submitted to us. When the list of 48 districts will be submitted to us, we will publish after scrutiny. There is no compulsion to post the primary list on the website. If incorrect information is given, we have to take responsibility. How did the former chairman come to know whose names are on the primary list or not? How could he realise that we are going to protect anyone? He is no longer in the commission. How could he obtain our information?

Q :

There is an allegation that eviction of grabbers has decreased after you became chairman. You don't go to the field to know the condition of rivers.

We are trying to ensure that nobody is harassed in the name of evicting river grabbers as the course of the river changes. When the river dries, many poor people make temporary houses to live in. I don't want to identify them as grabbers and make offenders. After I took over as chairman, the eviction drive was not halted. Rather the eviction drive is going on effectively and properly.

Q :

The former chairman said your understanding of land and river-related laws is poor. Being influenced by someone and with little understanding, you are doing many things.

As a government official, I have worked on land in different areas of the country. I have worked on the laws of the river and land and environment. I have studied at reputed universities in the world. I have adequate knowledge for work. Our family has been zemindars for three generations.

Our family has a lot of land. I look after those. He shouldn't make such a comment about me. There is no scope to be influenced by anyone. Rather, the former chairman is spreading propaganda to make the current commission controversial in the interest of some NGOs.

Q :

You are discharging duties simultaneously as chairman of a private development organisation as well as the river protection commission. The former chairman alleged that this is a violation of law.

I do not take any honorarium although I am in charge of a private development organisation. Moreover, I have taken permission from the government. What is wrong with the former chairman?

*This interview, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam