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Goons rule Korail slum

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11th-Jul-2017       
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A LEADING daily reported that politically blessed goons are making fortunes by providing gas, power and water illegally to the people of the city's biggest slum Korail Bosti. At least 20 syndicates in League with a section of policemen, utility service staffs, and local influentials realize Tk 1.5 crore per month from around one lakh slum dwellers. Year after year, the syndicates in broadest daylight run illegal businesses by supplying utilities through poorly installed pipelines which put life under threat at the congested slum. The slum which is spreads over 90 acres of government land along the Banani and Gulshan lake is the hub of many criminal activities, including drug and arms deals and a safe haven for the criminals as well as shelter of low income generating people. The syndicates control the slum according to their influence and strength of musclemen where the state apparatus is virtually non-existent.

The syndicates provide basic utilities to the slum dwellers through at least 10,000 illegal gas connections, and 15,000 water and as many electricity connections. Under the arrangements made by the syndicates, each gas connection costs at least Tk 500 for households and Tk 1,500 for commercial users. A family has to pay Tk 170 each for using a light bulb and an electric fan while a shop owner pays Tk 900 a month for a light bulb and Tk 600 for a refrigerator. To get tap water the syndicates charge Tk 600 for 20 minutes supply a day. Every syndicate has its own staff, including lineman, rent collector and manager and the number of staff depends on the number of homes under their illegal services cover. It is alleged that to set up the connections and run the unauthorized services, the syndicates get technical support from some employees of local water, power and gas supply offices in exchange for bribes. A syndicate kingpin said she has to pay Tk 1 lakh to local policemen, Tk 50,000 to the local Power Office, Tk 10,000 to local WASA Office and Tk 1 lakh to staff, all of which deprives the state coffers.

The illegal business had earlier led to bloodshed on several occasions over internal feuds aimed at establishing supremacy. Local councilors said all gas connections and fifty percent of water and electricity connections are illegal and the lines pose a very high risk of danger. WASA has installed 1,000 meters with connections to provide water to the slum but could not supply water to the entire population which gives opportunities to  the syndicates. Dhaka Electric Supply Company have set up 35 large-size "pole meters" that covers only 4,000 to 5,000 houses, but 30,000 houses illegally use the Power and Gas Supply Authority has not provide any gas connection but every household has gas connection. Simply it is a state of lawlessness.

The mayhem has been running for years after years as those who are responsible for snapping the illegal connections and book them under laws are highly bribed. The national coffer is remained largely deprived while gas, water and electricity are being stolen from the grid. The lawlessness should be stopped now to establish rules of law.

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