Bogura district administration identified 37 organisations and individuals as river grabbers, including a nongovernment organisation named Thengamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha
Even after five years, the relevant government agencies have not been able to implement the High Court's directives to prevent the occupation and pollution of the Karatoa river.
Moreover, the National River ConservationCommission directed Bogura district administration to lodge a case against the river-grabbers several months ago, but no case has been filed yet.
The Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) filed a writ petition at the High Court in February 2015 seeking directions to demarcate the river, prevent its encroachment and pollution, remove Bangladesh Water Development Board's regulator at Khulshi in Gaibandha and ensure normal riverflow
BELA Coordinator in Rajshahi, Tanmay KumerSanyal said that in June 2015, a bench of Justices Mirza Hussain Haider and AKM Zahirul Hoque directed five secretaries to protect Karatoa, including the Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forest, Chairman of National River Conservation Commission (NRCC), Bogura Municipality Chairman, Deputy Commissioners of Gaibandha and Bogura, and Director General of Department of Environment.
Following the High Court's order, Bogura District Administration identified 37 organisations and individuals as illegal occupiers of the Karatoa river, including an NGO named Thengamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha (TMSS).
Barely after it began, an eviction drive was halted in the face of obstacles created by occupiers. The NRCC then directed the Deputy Commissioner of Bogura to file cases against the occupiers on 19 November2019. Even after a year, no cases have been filed.
Per that letter, the NRCC claimed that TMSS had constructed an illegal structure in Barbakpur mouza, and has been disposing garbage from the Momo InnEco Park, a sister concern of TMSS, in Karatoa river in Naudapara mouza.
Also, an extension of Momo Inn EcoPark has formed an island by building a dam in the Shekherkola area, causing the bifurcated river to stagnate and change course.TMSS has continued to construct buildings or structures by illegally occupying the river site.
That same letter from the National River Conservation Commission also recommended the Department of Social Services to cancel the registration of the TMSS for river grabbing and damage of state property.
Meanwhile allegations have arisen that the Momo Inn Eco Park occupied the slope of the Karatoa river by building a gate.
BCL Paper Mill, another sister concern of TMSS, also disposes waste into the Karatoa river.
The District Administration's report also accused BCL Paper Millof changing the course of the river, filling it up by disposing garbage from its mills, and extracting sand with dredging machines.
According to several surveys conducted by the upazila administration and the Bangladesh Water Development Board in Bogura, TMSS and some other organisations have illegally occupied the Karatoa river site.
However, Executive Director of TMSS, Hosne Ara Begum brushed aside the accusations of illegal occupation and river pollution. She claimed that vested quarters are trying to damage the reputation of TMSS.
Md Masud Rana, senior chemist of Department of Environment in Rajshahi, examined the water of Karatoa and said that garbage and liquid waste from factories have lowered oxygen levels.
"When water flow in the river decreases, no aquatic animal can survive in the Karatoa river for eight months of the year," said Md Masud Rana.
Decreased water flow during dry season augments riverpollution levels, so aquatic animals cannot survive in and around the winter season.
The Deputy Commissioner of Bogura Ziaul Haque said legal action would be taken against those who are occupying and polluting the Karatoa river.