Dhaka North City Corporation demolished around 300 illegal shops at Karwan Bazar in the capital on Thursday. But the owners of these shops claim that their businesses are legal, and say that the demolition has caused huge losses for them.
Dhaka North Mayor Atiqul Islam was present during the drive. Officials carried out the demolitions in different areas with bulldozers from around 11am to 3pm.
At the onset of the drive, the mayor said that the Karwan Bazar area will be freed from illegal encroachers.
He said, the streets of the area are wide, so if all encroachers are evicted, the streets will be freed and traffic jams in the adjacent areas will be minimised.
"People do not want these large areas to be illegally occupied."
A committee has been formed comprising of local ward councillors and police to keep the areas free from encroachers, and that a police camp will be set up in the area to ensure that illegal shops are not erected there again Atiqul Islam said.
There were many wood trading shops that were among the ones that were demolished. The owners of these shops also claim that their businesses are not illegal, and that the demolition has caused them serious loss.
"The authorities did not notify us prior to the demolition drive to enable us to clear our goods. A lot of precious wood has been damaged," said Ismail Molla, general secretary of the Wood Traders Association of Karwan Bazar's Kathpatti area.
"The sudden demolition caused a loss of around Tk200 crore in our businesses," he said.
"We have been here for about 50 years. Mayor Mohammad Hanif (a former mayor of Dhaka City) allocated this land to us," the wood trader said.
"We have been paying rent regularly to the city corporation from the time that Hanif was mayor until Mayor Annisul Huq's time," he said.
"Mayor Annisul Huq stopped taking rent and proposed that we shift to another market. But after his death, no progress was made about shifting," he added.
Other wood traders also expressed anger, saying that they had incurred huge losses.
Dhaka North City's Executive Magistrate Sajid Anwar told The Business Standard that the drive was a part of an effort to remove all illegal structures from the city.
The North City's Executive Magistrate Aminul Islam told this correspondent that Dhaka North will also clear structures from all pavements, especially from Farmgate to Shahbagh, to make them accessible to pedestrians.
Dhaka North city also conducted a drive in the Khilkhet area the same day where around 600 structures were demolished.