The High Court yesterday observed that the Sundarbans is the lungs of Bangladesh like the Amazon forest is the lungs of the whole world.
“The Amazon forest is burning. People of the world are ready to protect the Amazon. It is the lungs of the entire world and like that, the Sundarbans is our lungs. Therefore, it is our responsibility to protect the Sundarbans,” it said.
The bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul Kader made the observation while hearing three separate rules issued earlier.
The rules dealt with the inaction of Department of Environment in giving environmental clearance to three companies for setting up liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottling plants in Bagerhat’s Mongla, an ecologically critical area, near the Sundarbans.
The bench ordered the DoE to issue the environmental clearance to Thengamara Mahila Sabuj Sangha (TMSS) LPG Ltd, Baraka LPG Ltd, and Delta LPG Ltd for establishing the bottling plants in Mongla as they are “green class industry” and not harmful to the environment.
The HC, however, observed that it is the government who will decide how many and what kind of industries to be set up in the Mongla industrial area.
It mentioned that this verdict would not create any obstacle for the government in taking any initiative to stop setting up of new industries in the area.
The LPG companies submitted three separate writ petitions to the HC on different dates this and last year, challenging the DoE’s inaction in disposing of their applications.
During yesterday’s hearing, petitioners’ lawyer Shafique Ahmed told the court that his clients’ LPG bottling plants would not damage trees, water, and soil in Mongla as well the Sundarbans as they are “green class industry”.
Many other companies, including Green Tower LPG Ltd, Orion LPG Ltd, Mir LPG Ltd, Bengal LPG Ltd, Bashundhara LPG Ltd, and Navana LPG Ltd, have been allowed to set up industries in the same area, he mentioned.
If the petitioners are not given permission, it will be discriminatory and will hamper their right to profession and business, the lawyer added.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam opposed the petitions, saying the government is committed to protecting the Sundarbans, a Unesco world heritage site.
If the petitioners are allowed to set up industries, the environment of the area and the Sundarbans will be damaged, he argued.
Muniruzzaman, a lawyer for TMSS LPG Ltd, and Baraka LPG Ltd, told this correspondent that the petitioners had submitted their applications to the DoE for environmental clearance certificates a long time ago. But the DoE did not dispose of their applications.
The companies then filed three separate writ petitions with the HC, challenging the DoE’s inaction.
Following the petitions, the HC issued separate rules asking the DoE and the government to explain why the DoE’s inaction should not be declared illegal and why it should not be directed to issue the certificates.
Mahbub Shafique also appeared for the petitioners, while Deputy Attorney General Abdullah Al Mahmud Bashar represented the government.