The High Court yesterday declared illegal a government decision to build a tourist and picnic spot on 61 acres of the Mahananda river in Chapainawabganj.
While delivering a verdict on a writ petition, the court also asked the public administration secretary to take necessary steps against Chapainawabganj Deputy Commissioner AZM Nurul Haque for allowing the project on the river.
The HC, however, said the tourism corporation can establish the tourist and picnic spot by acquiring khas (government) land near the Mahananda, Manzill Murshid, the lawyer for the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB), told The Daily Star.
He said DC AZM Nurul Haque allowed Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation to carry out the project on the Mahananda in 2014, violating the Water Body Protection Act 2000.
DC Nurul earlier submitted an affidavit to the HC saying that he gave the permission as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced that a tourist spot would be built in Chapainawabganj.
"We have submitted documents to the HC and showed that the prime minister has made the announcement in 2015 and she did not say that the tourist spot would be established on the land of the river," Manzill said, adding that the DC approved the project in 2014, one year before the PM's announcement.
Deputy Attorney General Wayesh Al Haroni, who represented the state, told this newspaper that he was yet to receive any instruction from the government for moving any appeal before the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court challenging the HC verdict.
Yesterday, the HC bench of Justice Md Ashraful Kamal and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil came up with the verdict following an application filed by Rabeya Bhoushri, a resident of Chapainawabganj, last year in continuation of a 2016 writ petition of the HRPB.
Lawyer Fawzia Karim Firoze appeared for Rabeya.
Following the HRPB's petition, the HC on February 3 last year declared the Turag a "legal person" and a "living entity" and also directed the authorities concerned to free the river from all kinds of encroachments.
The HC issued a 17-point directive to save the country's rivers and waterbodies from grabbers and pollution.