The High Court yesterday started hearing a petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) seeking its directives on the government to frame specific rules over the import of ships for scrapping in accordance with HC guidelines.
Bela filed the petition on Sunday as a supplementary to the original writ petition upon which the HC had delivered verdict on March 17, 2009.
In the verdict the HC issued some guidelines, directing the government to frame specific rules in the light of labour and environment protection laws and Basel Convention restricting import of toxic and hazardous ships.
But the Ministry of Environment and Forest apparently ignored the HC order and allowed the ship breakers to import ships with “inbuilt” toxic materials.
An HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain yesterday adjourned the hearing till 2:00pm today.
In the petition the Bela lawyer said the government has made rules inconsistent with the HC guidelines and relevant laws.
Bela sought directives from the court on the ship breakers not to break 22 ships, which were imported in last two months in the country, until the government frames “appropriative rules”.
It also prayed to the court to order the government not to issue no-objection-certificates (NOCs) to importers of ships without environmental clearances.
Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan and Iqbal Kabir Lytton appeared for Bela, while Rokanuddin Mahmud argued for ship breakers.
SHIP BREAKERS' NEWS BRIEFING
Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association leaders yesterday alleged some non-government organisations are campaigning against the ship-breaking industry while the ship breakers are working close to the government in compliance with the regulations.
At a press conference held at the Dhaka Reporters Unity, they claimed they hardly pollute the environment as they bring the scrap ships after getting clearance from the Department of Environment (DoE) and other agencies concerned.
Reading out a written statement, Hefazatur Rahman, president of the association, said the NGOs neither visited any shipyard nor presented any research analysis on the earth, air or water of the yard.
Asked whether they had any research on it, he said the Directorate General (DG) of Shipping is working on it.
After a long time, 16 ship-breakers had been granted temporary environmental clearance but an NGO filed a writ petition with the High Court in this connection, he said.
When asked why they keep the shipyards restricted to the media, Kamal Uddin Ahmed, former vice president of the association, said the shipyards which got the environmental clearance are open to media from now.