The High Court on Tuesday asked the authorities to remove 2,181 illegal structures on the Karnaphuli River banks in Chittagong.
The court also directed the concerned authorities to publish notices in two local dailies within a week asking the owners to remove their illegal structures in 90 days.
If they don’t remove the structures on their own within the stipulated period, the court directed the Department of Environment, the police and Chittagong deputy commissioner to dismantle them and report compliance to it.
The court, however, exempted six structures, three each of Bangladesh Navy and the Chittagong Port Authority from its order.
It asked Bangladesh Navy and the CPA to collect no objection certificates from the DoE.
The court also asked the DoE to consider the requests from the BN and the CPA if their structures were in public interest.
The court also directed the DoE director general to keep the Karnaphuli free from encroachments through constant monitoring and ensuring punishments to violators through mobile court and other legal actions.
During a survey the deputy commissioner of Chittagong identified the illegal structures including buildings, shops and piles of sands.
The DC’s office conducted the survey in compliance of an order from the bench and submitted the list of the illegal structures to it.
A bench of Justice Md Rezaul Hasan and Justice Kashefa Hussain issued the directives in a verdict it delivered after hearing of a public interest litigation of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.
Lawyer Manzill Murshid told reporters that the PIL writ petition was filed to free the Karnaphuli from illegal encroachments and restore the environment along the river.
The Karnaphuli River had been encroached at Boddarhat, Bakolia and at several other stretches, including between the Shah Amanat Bridge and the Ring Road.
Encroachments by powerful quarters as well as government organizations polluted the waters of Karnaphuli and Halda rivers and their 34 canals.
The Karnaphuli, the largest and most important river passing through the districts of Rangamati and Chittagong before falling into the Bay of Bengal has been badly polluted due to dumping of industrial and municipal wastes.
The Halda, famous and unique for fish breeding and source of fresh water supplies to the port city, is also threatened by pollution and encroachments.
Chittagong City Corporation officials said that of 34 canals of the two rivers only 10 to 11 survived.
Dumping untreated wastes by tanneries and dying industries directly dumped into the river through the Khondokia canal endangered the two rivers, said environmentalists.
Unabated sand mining from the two rivers also endangered them, they said.
Environmentalists have been protesting against dumping of 720 categories of untreated industrial and kitchen wastes from Chandra Ghona right up to the Karnaphuli estuary.
Since 2007, factory owners repeatedly failed to comply with the orders to install effluent treatment plants.
Chittagong Correspondent reported that 2,100 grabbers constructed illegal structures on the Karnaphuli banks in recent f years.
Environmentalists raised their voice time and again to restore the Karnaphuli River by evicting the grabbers.
Chittagong DC Mesbah Uddin said that the district administration prepared the list the grabbers.
`Our repeated initiatives to evict the illegal structures from the Karnaphuli banks was halted due to legal tangles, said Mesbah.
Mesbah called the Karnaphuli as the country’s economic lifeline and said Chittagong port can’t be run smoothly if its bank’s remained in grabbers possession.
Source: New Age