Sonargaon Farmland: SC rules against earth filling
A full bench of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Sonargaon Economic Zone's Managing Director Md Noor Ali to refrain from sand and earth filling of farmlands and wetlands around Meghna river in six moujas in Narayanganj's Sonargaon.
The apex court also ordered the deputy commissioner of Narayanganj, Rabbi Miah, to halt filling up the land and remove whatever has been dumped in compliance with a 2014 High Court order and a letter from the deputy commissioner himself.
The apex court also ordered the DC to submit a compliance report to it by October 8.
The DC, Rabbi Miah, in an October 2016 letter asked the local Upazila Nirbahi Officer to halt the work and remove whatever was dumped. He also asked to take legal action against the offender in keeping with the HC's ban order.
The Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain passed the order after hearing a petition seeking necessary orders to the authorities concerned to stop the filling of land, said a Bela press release.
According to documents of various government authorities, Unique Group, of which Sonargaon Economic Zone is a concern, repeatedly filled with earth and soil high-yield agricultural lands, wetlands and a portion of the Meghna river, despite the HC ban.
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, according to government documents.
The last time it embarked on dumping sand on agricultural land was on July 16, said local villagers.
On March 2, 2014, following a writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), the HC ordered a real estate developer Unique Property Development Ltd, a concern of Unique Group, to stop the filling up of land and remove soil that had already been dumped in the areas mentioned.
On October 25 in 2016, following a petition by Unique Properties Development Ltd, the HC modified its March 2, 2014 order and allowed the company to go ahead with the job.
On November 3, 2016, the Appellate Division stayed the HC order of October 25, upheld its (HC) March 2, 2014 order and asked the HC to hear and dispose of its March 2, 2014 rule.
Bela filed a contempt of court petition with the HC on January 16, 2017 as Unique Property Development Ltd started doing the work in the areas for establishing an Economic Zone in violation of the HC directives.
During a hearing of the contempt of court petition, the deputy commissioner of Narayanganj appeared before the HC and promised that he would take steps to stop it in the said areas, the Bela press release said.
On July 31 this year, Bela filed a petition with the HC seeking necessary order to stop the earth and sand filling.
The HC kept the petition in the record without passing any order. Bela recently filed the petition with the SC for necessary order.
After hearing of the petition, the SC issued the order.
Barrister Fida M Kamal, Advocate AM Aminuddin, Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan and Advocate Sayeed Ahmed Kabir appeared for Bela.