The Karatoa River has been flowing through Bogura town for centuries while human settlements have come up on both sides through the ages.
The river has been a great boon for the people living in the Karatoa valley.
Known as the 'Lung of Bogura', the Karatoa has mostly dried out, falling victim to the greed of encroachers.
The once large free-flowing river is now split into several hundred narrow streams because artificial islands have been erected in it.
Encroachers have also dealt a death blow to the river by narrowing it from both sides and changing its course.
About five years ago the High Court ordered the government to prevent encroachment and pollution of the River Karatoa, but the directive has not been implemented yet.
Taking advantage of the inaction of the local administration, unscrupulous people have encroached on fresh areas of the river.
A local NGO, Thengamara Mohila Sabuj Sangha (TMSS) is also on the list of encroachers. The NGO has built illegal structures on an encroached section of the river at Barbakpur mouza in Bogura Sadar.
The National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) has asked the government to file criminal cases against the people and entities, including the NGO, that have illegally filled-in parts of the river.
It also wants the Directorate of Social Service to cancel the license of TMSS if it does not stop the take-over and pollution of the river.
On November 19 this year, the National River Conservation Commission wrote to the Bogura deputy commissioner and the convener of the district River Protection Committee, Foyez Ahmed, asking him to submit a progress report within the next 15 working days.
Foyez Ahmed said that soon after getting the letter, the district administration asked the department concerned to take legal action.
"Action will be taken against the people responsible for grabbing and polluting the river as per the law of the land," he said.
Apart from the illegal construction of structures by the TMSS, information about the changing of the river course, filling the river with garbage and polluting it with toxic waste of factories, and illegal extraction of sand using shallow engine-run dredgers have also surfaced in a report prepared by the district administration.
Last year, after observing the level of pollution in the river, the chairman of the River Commission, Dr Mujibur Rahman Hawlader, directed the Bogrua deputy commissioner to take action against the encroachers and polluters.
After the Commission had issued a directive to prepare a list of land grabbers in the country, Revenue Deputy Collector (RDC) of Bogura, Mauli Mondal prepared a list mentioning 40 people and institutions as encroachers, and sent it to the Commission on July 22 this year.
The names of TMSS and the Bogura Diabetic Samity were in the list.
Later, the commission chairman inspected the Karatoa, Jamuna and Bangali rivers in Bogura from July 5 to 7 last year and prepared a report that said the TMSS has illegally built structures in Barbakpur mouza in Bogura Sadar.
The TMSS has encroached-on and is still polluting the Karatoa river.
There are allegations that the waste of Momo Inn (Eco Park) at Naodapara in Bogura Sadar is being dumped in the Karatoa River.
The river bed is being eroded by illegal extraction of sand, and its banks are caving in.
The commission advised the authorities to take immediate legal action to stop the dumping of waste, and the sand lifting to save the river.
It also recommended implementation of the law against the people responsible for polluting the river and the environment.
The Commission's letter also mentioned that the Momo Inn Extension Entertainment Park, and the TMSS structures have been built on artificial islands made by erecting a dam on the river.
The artificial islands in the river have dealt a death blow to it.
Teaming the act 'completely unlawful', the commission also advised the administration to urgently demolish the structures.
The River Commission also asked for information on how much land the TMSS has taken over. In its letter, the Commission mentioned that the TMSS has been working against the interest of the state by illegally occupying state land and a part of the river.
Asked about these allegations, TMSS Executive Director Hosne Ara Begum said their organisation has 102 acres of land covering both sides of the Karatoa River.
Forty acres of their land has been lost to the river because of erosion, she said.
Denying the allegation of illegal sand extraction, she said, "Extracting sand from one's own land and taking earth is legal."
She also claimed she herself had filed cases against people involved in illegal sand lifting to help the government.
However, a document shows that the highest number of allegations of encroachment of the Karatoa river and of polluting it is against the TMSS.
Ziaur Rahman, general secretary to the Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon's Bogura district unit said there are allegations against at least 500 people and organisations of encroaching on the river and of polluting it.
Eviction drive launched
As part of the country-wide eviction drive against encroachment and pollution of rivers, the local administration has started evicting encroachers of the Karatoa River flowing through Bogura town in the second phase of countrywide crackdown.
The deputy commissioner of Bogura, Foyez Ahmed, inaugurated the eviction drive on the western side of the Railway Bridge in the town on Monday morning.
On the first day, a number of temporary shops and three multi-storied buildings were demolished.
The executive engineer of the Water Development Board (WDB) said a fresh list of river encroachers will be prepared after the current phase of the eviction drive is complete.
Another round of the eviction drive will start on the basis of the new list, he added.