Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has demolished 250 illegal shops in an eviction drive at Phulbaria Supermarket-2 in the capital's Gulistan area amid protests by shop owners and employees.
''250 illegal shops out of 911 were evicted on Tuesday and the rest will be evicted in phases. The drive will continue until all 911 illegal structures have been demolished,'' Md Rasel Sabrin, chief estate officer of DSCC, said.
Md Moniruzzaman, A H Irfan Uddin Ahmed, Tanjila Kabir Tropa, executive magistrates of DSCC, led the drive to evict 911 illegal shops from A, B, C blocks of the market, which were built out of design, according to DSCC officials.
Soon after the drive was launched at around 1:30pm in front of A Block, shop owners and employees staged demonstrations to protest the drive.
The demonstration stopped all street traffic. Police fired several rounds of teargas to clear the road, eventually bringing the situation under control.
Some shopkeepers alleged that DSCC officials had started an eviction drive against the shops with no prior notice. DSCC has even collected rent from the shops.
DSCC Public Relations Officer Abu Naser claimed that traders had been informed about the drive ahead of time.
Shaheen Fakir, officer-in-charge (OC) of Bangshal police station, told The Business Standard that a notice was issued by the city corporation to remove illegally occupied shops. But shop owners defied the order.
Some shop owners alleged that they were only given a 12-hour deadline to remove their belongings from the shops.
The mall, located opposite Nagar Bhaban, comprises of three buildings/blocks – A, B & C, which shopkeepers named City Plaza, Nagar Plaza and Zaker Supermarket respectively.
According to the DSCC, 911 shops were built in the market violating design specifications. The shopping mall design has provisions for 531 shops, including 176 shops each in A and B blocks, and 179 in C block.
But in violation of the original design, 308 shops were constructed in A block, 292 in B block and 311 in C block, according to DSCC's revenue department.
Some shopkeepers claim that they paid lakhs to legalise these unplanned shops during the tenure of former mayor Sayeed Khokon, only to find themselves facing eviction.
Mayor Fazle Noor Taposh said, "It's not our responsibility to see who gave money to whom. Our responsibility is to evict illegal occupants and restore discipline here. After Phulbaria, the eviction drive will be carried out in the Sundarbans Square Market."
Aside from Phulbaria, there are several thousand illegal occupants in 29 markets. The corporation will evict all illegal occupants in phases, he added.
He vowed to evict all illegal occupants - of land or markets - during his tenure.