HC declares activities of 2 pvt companies in Sonargaon ‘illegal’
The High Court today came down hard on two private companies of Md Noor Ali -- Unique Property Development Ltd (UPDL), and Sonargaon Economic Zone (SEZ) -- for grabbing and filling farmland, lowland and water bodies in order to establish a housing project and economic zone at Sonargaon upazila in Narayanganj.
The HC bench declared the activities of the two companies at six moujas in Sonargoan "illegal" and ordered the Department of Environment (DoE) and local administration of Sonargaon and Narayanganj to take necessary steps to restore the farmland and wetland there in six months.
While delivering the verdict on a writ petition, the HC observed that UPDL and SEZ grabbingfarmland and wetland at six moujas in Sonargaon area near the bank of Meghna River is appalling, as they were done in violation of the relevant laws and directives issued by the HC and Appellate Division of the Supreme Court at different times.
Citing the government documents, the court said the business conglomerate has filled-up agricultural lands and wetlands in Pirojpur, Jainpur, Chhoyhissa, Charbhobonathpur, Batibandha and Ratanpur moujas in Sonargaon upazila-- first in the name of a resort city and later a private economic zone.
Md Noor Ali is a freedom fighter and therefore, the nation does not expect it from him, the HC bench of Justice Md Ashraful Kamal and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil said.
The court directed the DoE and the local administration to probe the incidents of grabbing and earthfilling by UPDL, SEZ and any other organisation or person and to give proper compensation to the owners of the lands.
Around 2,350 bighas of farmland and wetland at six moujas in Sonargoan have been grabbed, the HC said.
The HC bench said any company has to apply to the Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (BEZA) for establishing an economic zone in line with the Bangladesh Economic Zone Act, 2010 after obtaining clearance certificates from the DoE and other government offices.
Md Noor Ali's companies can submit a fresh application for permission from Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority to establish an economic zone in accordance with the law, the HC said.
Justice Md Ashraful Kamal said Noor Ali should establish an environment friendly industry so that not only Bangladesh but also the world follows him.
"If the ecology and environment cannot be protected, human beings cannot survive," the judge said.
The HC bench came up with the verdict following the writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association challenging the legality of grabbing land and earth filling for establishing a housing project and economic zone by UPDL and SEC at Sonargaon.
The bench kept the writ petition as a continuous mandamus so that any aggrieved person can move a prayer before this court for necessary order on this issue in future.
The HC bench of Justice Md Ashraful Kamal and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil on November 24 fixed today (Wednesday) for delivering the verdict after concluding final hearing on the petition filed by BELA in 2014.
Lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan argued for Bela while lawyers Murad Reza and Ahsanul Karim appeared for Noor Ali.
Deputy Attorney General Wayes Al Haruni represented the state.