The government would set up separate zone for ship-breaking yards at Sitakunda and formulate a regulation for the industry to protect environment.
State Minister for Environment and Forest Hasan Mahmud told journalists after visiting the coastal green forest at Sonaichhari of Sitakunda on Monday.
The minister however warned that stern action will be taken against those who will set up ship-breaking yards in Sitakunda coastal area by plundering green forest and damaging its environment.
Meanwhile, a section of people staged demonstration against the forest department during the visit of the minister.
They termed the forest department's intervention on the ship breaking activities as 'harassment'.
Earlier, the minister also visited Rahim Steel and Ship Yard at Madam Bibir Hat in the upazila where four men were killed and 10 injured in an oil-tanker explosion on Saturday.
The state minister said, "No one will be allowed to establish and operate ship-breaking yards along the coast in a scattered way."
The government will set up separate zone for shipyards after discussion with different ministries including the environment and forest and shipping and industries ministries, he said.
Issuing warning of stern action against the tree plunderers, Hasan Mahmud said, “No one including me has the right to cut down trees, raised by the forest department, without permission, even if the trees are planted on public lands.”
Referring to a notice issued by the land ministry in 1996, the state minister said the land entrusted to the forest department could not be leased out without its approval.
Several banners of the shipyard owners were also seen on the nearby embankment.
The messages of the banners included 'stop grabbing public lands in the name of saving trees', 'stop harassment by the forest department,' “We want jobs, we want ship breaking yards.”
Locals preferring anonymity said that some hired people of local shipyard owners hung the banners a few hours before the state-minister arrived there.
Mentionable, the forest department started developing the green forest belt on around 125 acres along Sitakunda coast in 1989 to protect the coastal people from tidal surge and cyclonic storm.
Since then around 2 lakh saplings have been planted in several phases while around 25 thousand trees could be raised up before the plundering started in November last year, sources at the forest department said.
Several thousand trees were cut down in Sonaichhari in the night on November 29 by a section of people.