Stop hill cutting in 5 dists, HC asks govt
The High Court yesterday directed the government to stop all kinds of hill cutting in five districts, currently taking place without environmental clearance certificate.
Delivering judgement on a writ petition, the court ordered the authorities concerned of the government to take effective steps immediately to protect the hills in
, Cox's Bazar,
Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari. Chittagong
It also asked the authorities to take appropriate legal action against those involved in cutting hills without securing environmental clearance certificates from the Department of Environment (DoE).
The HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik and Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim delivered the verdict following the petition, filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) on August 23 last year.
The petition said some people were cuttings hills in the five districts without having environmental clearance and damaging the environment of the areas.
The HC on that day issued a rule upon the government to explain why it should not be directed to stop hill cutting and take legal action against those involved.
After holding hearing on the rule yesterday, the HC delivered the verdict.
Advocate Iqbal Kabir Lytton appeared for Bela, while Assistant Attorney General Yeadia Zaman represented the state.
Following another petition by Bela seeking restriction on cutting hills at Shahjalal Upashahar and six upazilas of Sylhet, the same bench on March 1 directed the government to take steps in this regard. The upazilas are Sylhet Sadar, Gowainghat, Beanibazar, Companyganj, Jaintapur and Golapganj.
8 held for hill cutting
Police yesterday detained eight day labourers for cutting of a hill in Manikchhari upazila of Khagrachhari and fined them.
The detainees were identified as Mohammad Kabir Hossain, 75, Anamul Haque, 40, Anis Mia, 28, Joynal Abadin, 25, Suman Mia, 20, Mohammad Dalim, 20, Sujan Mia, 20, and Mohammad Gias Uddin, 18.
On secret information, a police team raided the spot in Gabamara area around and arrested the workers red handed while they were cutting a hill indiscriminately, said Officer-in-Charge of Manikchhari Police Station Keshab Chakraborty.
He said the labourers were yet to disclose the name of the person who hired them for the job.
Later in the evening, a mobile court fined the workers Tk 8,000 each.
However, local inhabitants Abdul Sattar, Kanchan and Abu Siddique blamed an official of Khagrachhari public health department, Sohrab Hossain, for the hill cutting. He has an orchard in Osmanpolli area adjacent to Gabamara.
Sohrab was levelling the hill for the last three days to channel water from a nearby lake to his orchard for irrigation, alleged the locals.
This correspondent tried several times to speak to Sohrab over phone for comments, but his number was found switched off.
Contacted, Jafar Alam, Manikchhari upazila nirbahi officer, said legal action would be taken against the person if the allegation was proved in investigation.
The High Court on March 19 this year directed the government to stop all kinds of hill cutting in five districts including Khagrachhari. It also asked the authorities concerned to take appropriate legal action against those involved in cutting hills without securing environmental clearance certificates from the Department of Environment (DoE).
Stop hill cutting for industry
DoE asks KEPZ authorities that claims to have govt nod
The Department of Environment (DoE) yesterday stopped the slicing away of this hill at the KEPZ in Anwara area of
. The KEPZ authorities
had been leveling the hill to make industrial plots claiming that they had
necessary permission from the DoE. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das Chittagong
The Department of Environment (DoE) yesterday directed the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) authorities to stop cutting hills in its project areas under Anwara and Patia upazilas in
Acting on a tip-off, a team of DoE conducted a drive in KEPZ project areas and found that the authorities had levelled around 40 to 60 feet high hills at three different sites to make industrial plots.
The DoE team also directed the KEPZ authorities to plant trees and dig ponds to revive the ecology of the hilly areas and protect their biodiversity.
“No one can level hills indiscriminately in the name of land development,” said DoE Director Munir Chowdhury, who led the drive.
Any development work should take place in line with protecting the hills, instead of destroying them, he added.
However, Brig Gen (retd) Hasan Nasir, in-charge of the KEPZ project areas, claimed that necessary permission from the DoE to develop the plots had been obtained.
The DoE in its letter directed the KEPZ to preserve 60 percent of hilly regions and construct plots in the remaining areas, he said.
“We will never exceed the 40 percent limit to construct plots as per our proposed plan,” Brig Gen Hasan said.
The DoE team without checking any document arrested a security guard and a driver stationed in the project area, he said.
But the team soon released them when the KEPZ officials showed them necessary approval from the DoE, he added.
The DoE team during the drive found that the KEPZ authorities were cutting hills beyond the permitted limit, said Munir Chowdhury.
Therefore, it asked the KEPZ officials concerned to come to its
Dhaka office and show their
necessary documents of approval today, the DoE director added.
Hill cutting, tree felling increase risks
A hectic search for the bodies of the victims continues at Khulshi Firozshah Colony in Chittagong city yesterday.A landslide hit the area Tuesday night turning there sidential area into a chaos of mud and bodies. Photo Anurup Kanti Das
Indiscriminate deforestation, hill cutting and unplanned human settlements are causing the series of landslides in
, according to experts. Chittagong
All along the hilly districts of Bandarban, Khagrachhari, Cox's Bazar and Rangamati trees are felled at random, instantly turning the soft soil of the hills extremely vulnerable to slides. The extent of deforestation has reached such a critical stage that many big and small trees have disappeared presenting denuded look of the hills.
On top of that, unabated hill cutting, despite stringent laws forbidding that, and the shelter scarcity of a large population also play key roles behind the mind boggling number of casualties in landslides.
Over the last five years, mudslide buried several hundred people alive across the
hill areas. In the
latest incident, at least 85 people perished in landslides across the division
from Tuesday. Chittagong
He said during a visit he found that the hills along the roads were devoid of trees. “To minimise the risk we must plant trees on the hills so that tree roots can retain the soil,” said Prof Jahangir, adding, “We also have to make the hill owners construct retaining walls where the hills have been cut.”
Zafar Alam, director of the Department of Environment in
, said unplanned
settlement at the foot of hills was the biggest concern. “The soil of Chittagong hills is soft and
sandy. The places, where the landslides happened, were at the foot of hills
that had a sharp rise, at places up to at 80 degrees,” he said, adding, “With
the slightest rain the alluvial soil of the hills become unstable and
vulnerable to slides.” Chittagong
Alam also said most of the mudslide victims were from the plains and unaware of the perils of the hills.
Hill cutting and land grabbing goes on...
While people die in mudslides at the foot of the hills in
and the hill tracts,
hill cutting and land grabbing goes on at Road-1 of Khulshi in Chittagong . Signboards there say
that the land belongs to local ruling party lawmaker Shamsul Haque Chowdhury
and former police officers, and huts have been built to ensure occupation of
the land. Photo: Banglar Chokh Chittagong
Stop hill cutting
HC says environmental assessment is a must
The High Court (HC) yesterday directed the government not to cut hills without obtaining environment clearance certificate from the Department of Environment (DoE).
The court ruled that the environmental impact assessment is essential in order to preserve the nature which is whyobtaining the certificate is mandatory before cutting any hill in the country.
A bench comprising Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury Manik and Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim gave the verdict following a writ petition and directed the government to be careful so that no hills are cut without the DoE's clearance.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) filed the petition on November 24 last year seeking restriction on cutting hills at Shahjalal Upashahar and six upazilas of Sylhet.
The upazilas are Sylhet Sadar, Gowainghat, Beanibazar, Companyganj, Jaintapur and Golapganj.
On November 27 last year, the HC had asked the government to take steps to prevent cutting of hills in those areas and also issued a rule upon it to explain why the hill cutting should not be declared illegal.
Advocate Iqbal Kabir Lytton appeared for Bela, while Assistant Attorney General Yeadia Zaman represented the government.
HC orders end to hill cutting in 5 dists
The High Court on Monday directed the government to stop all kinds of hill cutting in five districts without environmental clearance certificate.
The districts are
, Cox’s Bazar,
Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari. Chittagong
Delivering a judgement on a writ petition, the court directed the authorities concerned of the government to take appropriate legal action against those involved with cutting hill without collecting environmental clearance certificates from the Department of Environment.
A HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Jahangir Hossain Selim came up with the verdict following the writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association.
The organisation filed the petition on August 23 last year saying that the hills were being cut in the five districts without the clearance certificates damaging the environment of the areas.
The HC on that day issued a rule upon the government to explain why it should not be directed to stop hill cutting and to take legal action against those involve in cutting hill illegally.
After holding hearing on the rule, the HC on Monday delivered the verdict.
One fined for hill cutting
The Department of Environment (DoE) yesterday fined the owner of Brindartila at Debpur area of Sylhet Tk13 lakh for illegal hill cutting.
DoE Director Mohammad Munir Chowdhury asked Ratan Moni Mohanta to refill the earth and plant fruit and timber trees on the said area within March 27.
The offender yesterday deposited Tk 10 lakh and was allowed to deposit the rest Tk 3 lakh within a week, said DoE officials.
On February 23, a DoE team headed by Munir Chowdhury in a drive filed a case against Ratan. They found that Ratan owned 60 decimal land of the hillock.
A total of 61 lakh cubic feet earth had been cut from the hillock, the officials informed.
However DoE informed the district administration and asked them to take measures against the said landowner.
Stop hill cutting in 6 Sylhet UZs: HC
The High Court yesterday asked the government to take steps to prevent the cutting of hills in six upazilas of Sylhet for the next six months.
The upazilas are Sylhet Sadar, Goainghat, Beanibazar, Companyganj, Jaintpur and Golapganj.
The court also issued a rule upon the government in response to a writ petition to explain in three weeks why the hill cutting should not be declared illegal.
It also asked the government to explain why it should not be directed to rehabilitate the people living at the basement of the hills to other places.
Bangladesh Environment Lawyers' Association (Bela) filed the writ petition on November 24, saying that different individuals have been cutting hills and tilas in the upazilas and damaging the environment.
The rights organisation prayed to the court to pass the necessary directives on the government to stop cutting hills and tilas in the upazilas.
Bela filed the petition as public interest litigation after several reports were published in The Daily Star, the daily Prothom Alo and the daily Ittefaq over the issue.
The bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Jahangir Hossain came up with the orders and rule after holding hearings on the petition yesterday.
Advocate Iqbal Kabir Lytton appeared for Bela, while Deputy Attorney General ABM Altaf Hossain represented the government.
KEPZ denies illegal hill cutting
Authorities of the Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) yesterday denied the allegation of cutting hills in its project area at Anowara in the port city.
Brig Gen (retd) Mohammad Hasan Nasir, a KEPZ advisor, made the claims at a press conference at its office when General Manager of KEPZ Engineer Md Shahjahan, advisor Engineer AAM Zia Hussain and senior officials were present.
Nasir said though they have secured necessary permission from the government as well as the Department of Environment (DoE) to prepare the project's land, a DoE team in a drive on January 22 directed them to stop cutting hills.
On enquiry from The Daily Star, he claimed that they maintained the hill height at 22-metre level after a technical body of the DoE had earlier allowed them to keep the height between 18 and 20 metres from mid sea level (MSL).
“The government permitted us to use 60 percent land of the area and we've prepared only 40 percent for industries. It is a land of hillocks with an uneven undulation. If anyone wants to set up industry here, the land has to be prepared,” he said and added that they have been preparing the land following the government direction.
KEPZ officials said it might be a communication gap among the offices within the DoE.
He said when the KEPZ will be operational it will be a workplace for around 3.50 lakh people which demands a strong and healthy environment. Considering this, about 16 lakh trees have been planted and 17 lakes dug in the project area.
They also urged the government that if decisions like this are imposed again and again they would stop the development work which will not be a good example for the country's economy.
However, as The Daily Star reached DoE Director Munir Chowdhury over phone yesterday for his comments about the claims, he said his department did not give the KEPZ any permission to cut the hills.
"KEPZ authority has not yet submitted to us their land development plan," he added.
The DoE director spoke of indiscriminate hill cutting without even demarcating the land area of the project and said, "The DoE will take legal action after assessing the extent of environmental damages caused due to such hill cutting."
Stop hill cuttingDoE asks KEPZ→ Staff Correspondent
A notice to this effect was issued on Sunday after a DoE team led by its Director (Enforcement) Munir Chowdhury conducted a drive after receiving information about destruction of hills there.
DoE Chittagong Deputy Director Golam Ahmed Bhuiyan, members of Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and the upazila land administration assisted the team during the drive.
The team revealed that several 40- or 60-foot hills were being levelled by bulldozer and excavator and around 47 kathas of land were levelled in the KEPZ area.
However, the KEPZ authorities have earlier obtained prior permission, tagged with conditions, from DoE to level the hills for developing the plots.
In this regard, Munir Chowdhury said the KEPZ authorities are levelling the hills taking advantage of loopholes of the conditions.
Levelling the hills completely would threaten biodiversity and also result in soil erosion, he said.
“We directed the KEPZ authorities to submit the related documents within tomorrow (Monday) and the government high-ups would be informed of the matter for next course of action,” he said.
KEPZ Managing Director Lt Col (retd) Mohammad Shahjahan told reporters that they are developing the plots after obtaining prior permission from the DoE.
He also claimed that no conditions of DoE are being violated during the development work.