Legal battle underway to protect Suhrawardy Udyan
Some Supreme Court lawyers and rights organisations have initiated a legal battle in order to protect the historic grounds of Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital and preserve its natural beauty.
Two SC lawyers yesterday filed a contempt of court petition with the High Court against the government officials concerned on charge of clearing trees and setting up restaurants at Suhrawardy Udyan ignoring the HC's 2009 verdict.
Lawyers Mahbubul Islam and Ripan Barai submitted the contempt of court petition to the office concerned of the HC seeking its directive on three government officials to cancel the activities of cutting trees and constructing restaurants at Suhrawardy Udyan.
The three officials are Liberation War Affairs Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Public Works Department's Chief Engineer Md Shamim Akhter and Bangladesh's Chief of Architects Mir Manzur Rahman, petitioners' lawyer Manzill Murshid told The Daily Star.
It has been prayed in the petition to the HC to issue a contempt of court rule against the three officials for cutting trees and setting up restaurants in Suhrawardy Udyan in violation of the 2009 HC directives, he said.
Manzill Murshid said the HC may hold hearing on the contempt of court petition any day.
Earlier on Thursday, the lawyer (Manzill) sent a legal notice to three officials asking them to stop the activities of clearing trees and setting up restaurant at Suhrawardy Udyan within 48 hours.
Following a writ petition, the HC on July 7, 2009 directed the government to identify and preserve all the important historic places related to the republic's Liberation War and to set up memorial monuments at the historic places at Suhrawardy Udyan maintaining international standard so that people from home and abroad can pay homage to martyred freedom fighters.
The HC had ordered the government to take steps to protect and maintain the historic places at Suhrawardy Udyan where Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered his historic speech on March 7 in 1971 and where Pakistani army surrendered on December 16, 1971.
Suhrawardy Udyan is also the place where Bangabandhu gave his speech on January 10, 1972, after his return to the country from exile, and where Indira Gandhi, then prime minister of India, greeted Bangabandhu on March 17, 1972.
Meanwhile yesterday, six rights organisations and an architect collectively filed a writ petition with the HC seeking its directive on the government to not cut trees and damage the environment and natural characteristics at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital.
Rights bodies -- Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), Association for Land Reforms and Development (ALRD), Nijera Kori, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) and Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) along with architect Mubasshar Hossain submitted the petition as a public interest litigation to the office concerned of the HC.
In the petition, they requested the HC to order the authorities concerned of the government to plant thrice the number of trees that have been felled in the same spots at Suhrawardy Udyan.
The petitioners also urged the HC to ask the authorities to protect and preserve the original and natural historical shape of Suhrawardy Udyan by removing the structures which were constructed beyond the original master plan.
They said in the petition that the ministry of liberation war affairs, which is implementing a project titled "Independence Monument" at Suhrawardy Udyan in a press release said that 1,000 new trees will be planted in places where 100-year old trees were cut.
Those old trees were the habitat of rare birds. The new trees cannot play that role to protect the environment and birds, they said in the petition.
They also said in the petition that damaging greenery is contradictory to the Water Bodies Act and the 2009 High Court verdict.
Bela's lawyer Sayeed Ahmed Kabir told The Daily Star that the HC bench of Justice Farah Mahbub and Justice SM Maniruzaaman yesterday fixed May 19 for hearing the writ petition.