'MP land' drive challenged | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 24, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 24, 2011

'MP land' drive challenged

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Aslamul Haque, a ruling party lawmaker from Dhaka-14 (Mirpur) constituency, yesterday challenged some officials at the Department of Environment for conducting a drive on 'his land' the day before.
Aimed at freeing the Buriganga river from grabbers, the drive seized five earth-moving equipment which were being used to fill up a portion of the Buriganga and lowland without any environmental clearance. The Daily Star covered the event under the headline 'Aati canal goes, river on the way'.
Aslam landed at the environment office around 12:30pm and sent the alarm bells ringing, threatening and shouting over the drive at people, sources said. But the lawmaker told The Daily Star it was a mere discussion, adding that he went there to show his land ownership documents.
According to the law, even private land owners have to get permission from the Department of Environment and site clearance before filling up any wetland. Violating that rule is a punishable offence.
The site in question had a signboard saying, “Proposed: Fuel Preservation Centre Rented by Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (government approved)”.
The report mentions that the Department of Environment already filed a case in connection with violating the Environment Preservation Act (amendment), 2010.
Munir Chowdhury, the director of Monitoring and Enforcement wing of the Department of Environment, yesterday said they found a portion of river was being filled up with the help of those equipment.
They did not have any clearance from the Department of Environment. "So we seized those bulldozers as evidence," he added.
Lawmaker Aslamul Haque was not available for comments Tuesday evening.
When asked about it, Aslamul yesterday told The Daily Star that he is a 'man of the law and in favour of saving the rivers'. He just filled up his own legal land, not any river.
About permission from the Department of Environment, he said, "We have hired a logistic company to get all these permissions from the government. So the process is on for getting permission for the power plant project."
"I went to the Department of Environment office to talk about it," he said again.
Arriving at the office, Aslamul wanted to meet the director who conducted the drive on his land and the director general.
But none of them were available at the office then, an official who was present during the lawmaker's visit said.
Later, he went to the office of director technical of the environment department and asked for the keys to the five excavators and bulldozers which were seized by the officials during the drive Tuesday.
"But that particular director was absent too. The lawmaker then went to the office of director (technical) Mohammed Shajahan and did some shouting there," said an official of the DoE requesting anonymity.
"We were all terrified as the lawmaker shouted at us," he said.
The lawmaker, however, insisted that he went there only to show his legal documents.

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