The High Court yesterday asked authorities concerned of the government to explain in three months why their failure to stop marine pollution, waste dumping and use of disposable plastic products in Cox’s Bazar should not be declared illegal.
It also asked why concerned authorities should not be directed to demolish unauthorised structures set up at reserved areas of the sea beach.
The respondents have also been asked to explain why they should not be ordered to ensure environmental clearance certificates and sewage treatment plants for constructing hotels, motels, restaurants and other commercial structures at municipal areas in the district.
Secretaries to the cabinet division and ministries of forest and environment, civil aviation and tourism, housing and public work, public administration and water resources, and 16 others concerned were made respondents to the rule. The bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman issued the rule following a writ petition filed recently by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela).
In the petition, Bela said Cox’s Bazar Development Authority has reportedly identified 216 hotels and 24 fish hatcheries that pollute the sea, as there was no sewage treatment plant in the hotels and hatcheries.
Bela prayed to the HC to pass orders on the respondents to protect hills, hillocks and forests, and save the beach from pollution and encroachment.
Sayeed Ahmed Kabir, a lawyer for Bela, told The Daily Star the government declared 10,465 hectares of the sea beach ecologically critical area in 1999. Construction of all kinds are prohibited there, but the rule is not being enforced. Hills, hilly forests and hillocks are being damaged in Cox’s Bazar’s Sadar, Maheshkhali, Teknaf, Ramu, Chakaria, Ukhiya and Pekua upazilas. Illegal structures are being built there but authorities concerned are not taking any effective action, he added.