Violating High Court orders, shipping and environment departments have permitted 16 more toxic ships to enter the country.
As of yesterday, at least 10 of the 16 ships, mostly tanker and bulker, have reached the shore for scrapping after they received no objection certificates (NOC) from the shipping department, said sources in the ship breaking yards.
Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA) yesterday served a legal notice to all the officials who gave the NOCs asking them to take steps so the toxic ships leave the country's territory immediately.
The importing companies are: MAK Corporation, SK Ship Breakers, Asadi Steel, Siko Steel, Jamuna Steel, BBC Steel and Peninsular Steel, sources said.
The notice has been served on the director general of shipping; Commodore Reaz Uddin Ahmed, chairman, Chittagong sea port; Golam Kibria, Collector of Customs (Import); Jafar Alam, director, Department of Environment of Chittagong division; Md Mosharaf Ashraf, Chief Chemist, Department of Shipping; and Hefajtur Rahman, president Bangladesh Ship Breaking Association.
BELA said the officials concerned have clearly violated previous High Court orders.
Recently, all these officials were charged with contempt of court for allowing two toxic ships -- MV BARDI and MT BO -- in the country. Later, they canceled the NOCs following an HC order.
The court released them of the charge, as all but two officials offered unconditional apology.
The HC in its March 17 order last year directed the government not to allow any scrap ships without cleaning them outside the country's territory.
On May 11 last year, the HC gave another order saying that no ship should be imported for scrapping without pre-cleaning certificates from the government agencies of the exporting country or an agency nominated by them.
The court also ordered the government to ensure safety and security of the workers at different shipyards in Chittagong, mostly in Bhatiari, Sitakunda.