The High Court yesterday directed the government to prepare an action plan with a list of land grabbers for recovering 50 canals in both the Dhaka city corporation areas by July 1 next year.
The list of land grabbers would be included in the plan for the purpose of removing encroachments, regulating pollution and ensuring proper maintenance of the canals.
The court also ordered the authorities concerned to demarcate areas of these canals so that they would return to their original shape.
In response to a writ petition, the HC directed the authorities to prepare a report on the status and location of the canals, including the ones in Segunbagicha, Katasur, Kalyanpur and Khilgaon.
It asked the authorities to submit the action plan and the report before it within six months from January 1 next year and set July 2 for further hearing on the issue.
Mayors of Dhaka north and south city corporations, director general of the environment department, managing director of Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa), chairman of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), director general of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and the deputy commissioner of Dhaka have been asked to act.
Besides, the HC issued a rule asking the respondents to explain why their failure to protect the canals from encroachment, pollution, and obstruction of the canals' natural water flow should not be declared illegal.
Secretaries to the ministries of land, environment and forests, housing and public works and water resources, chairman of the National River Protection Commission, mayors of the two city corporations, director general of the environment department, managing director of Dhaka Wasa, chairman of Rajuk, director general of WAPDA and the DC of Dhaka have been made respondents.
The bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice JBM Hassan came up with the order and rule following a writ petition filed as a public interest litigation by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association seeking necessary directives to protect the canals.
Of the 50 canals, 24 are in Dhaka South City Corporation area and the rest are in Dhaka North City Corporation area, said Sayeed Ahmed Kabir, a lawyer for Bela.
He also added that 26 canals of the 50 would be recoverable according to reports published in different newspapers, including The Daily Star and the Prothom Alo, this year and last year.
Advocate Minhazul Haque Chowdhury argued for Bela, while Deputy Attorney General Motaher Hossain represented the government yesterday.