The Supreme Court today upheld a High Court order that asked the government to stop the operations of Maizea Advance Agro Refinery (MAAR) Limited, a dry starch powder producing company, for polluting environment at Shahpur area in Habiganj's Madhabpur upazila.
A six-member bench of the Appellate Division of the SC headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain dismissed a leave to appeal petition filed by MAAR Limited challenging the HC directive.
Following a writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), the HC on March 15 this year ordered the government to immediately stop the functions of MAAR Limited.
At the same time, the HC asked the authorities concerned to assess the environmental and ecological damage caused by MAAR Ltd in the area and to submit the assessment report before this court in 60 days on receiving a copy of the order.
Director General of Department of Environment (DoE), deputy commissioner of Habiganj, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Madhabpur, Director (monitoring and enforcement) of DoE and Director of DoE, Sylhet, have been asked to comply with the directive.
The HC also issued a rule asking 10 respondents including the five officials to explain in four weeks why their failure to stop the unauthorised, dangerous and polluting activities of MAAR Ltd should not be declared illegal and against public interest.
In the rule, the court asked the respondents to show causes why they should not be directed to relocate the industry (MAAR Ltd) from the area to an industrial area and to take steps to protect Ekhtiarpur Khal (canal) from the pollution of the industry.
Five other respondents of the rule are: secretary to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, superintendent of police of Habiganj, upazila chairman of Madhabpur, officer in charge of Madhabpur police station and owner of MAAR Ltd.
In the petition, Bela said the MAAR Ltd has been damaging and polluting the environment of the area by producing liquid waste and dumping them into water of Ekhtiarpur Khal for a long period of time.
The DoE has fined MAAR Ltd Tk 17.1 lakh in 2017 and Tk 35.8 lakh in 2018 for polluting and damaging the environment, the petitioner said in the petition.
Later on, MAAR Limited filed a writ petition with the Appellate Division challenging the HC directives.
Lawyers Minhazul Haque Chowdhury Hasan appeared for Bela while lawyer MK Rahman argued for MAAR Limited during hearing of the leave to appeal petition.