The Detailed Area Plan (DAP) for Chattogram city in 2008 directed that no establishment can be erected within 12 feet of any canal. But many buildings have been constructed in these areas, violating the directives. Now the Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) will have to compensate Tk 2.24 billion to the owners of the buildings that have to be torn down as part of its plan to reclaim the canals.

The question is, how were the buildings constructed violating the directives of DAP? Some of the buildings that were being constructed by the bank of the canal tilted during the construction work. CDA is responsible to stop construction work of all the establishments that are illegal, unapproved and not included in the map while Chattogram City Corporation is endowed with the responsibility to look after the canal and its two banks.

Naturally questions will arise as to why the CDA and city corporation did not take any action to stop the illegal construction works and encroachment of the canal. Officials of the two bodies said they have a crisis of workforce. Strange logic! Why did they not speaking about this shortfall earlier? Rather, the officials of the two bodies chose to keep mum when laws were broken and buildings were constructed.

The concerned people have to answer how the designs of such buildings were approved and the owners got impunity even after constructing buildings going beyond the designs. It is no secret that such buildings are constructed with the assistance of a certain quarter of unscrupulous CDA and city corporation officials.

The work of a Tk 56.16-billion project involving re-excavation, expansion, renovation and development is ongoing to resolve the water-logging problem in Chattogram city, said the CDA. Thirty six canals are being widened under the project. A total of 1804 establishments constructed on the banks of canals have to be demolished to construct 85km road and walkway by the banks. For this the CDA has to pay Tk 2.24 billion as compensation to the building owners. But this is not compensation, rather reparation for the mistakes.

We want to say clearly that no compensation can be paid for demolishing the illegal constructions by the bank of the canal. But there is no problem with paying compensation to the owners of buildings constructed following all the laws.

A committee of experts has to be formed to check the legal documents alongside fixing the amount of compensation. Compensation is not such a matter that can be fixed at one’s whim. The money CDA would spend as compensation is the people’s tax-money. The concerned people have to be identified first before paying the compensation. Punitive action has to be taken against the responsible people, if necessary.

There has to be a coordinated planning for any development work or to solve any problem of a city. It will not help people if different bodies take up projects separately. Instead, certain beneficiaries will extract more money in the name of compensation.