Sunday, February 25, 2024

Wetland Grabbing: None jailed in 10 yrs

Not a single person has been jailed for filling up rivers, canals or wetlands in the capital in the last one decade since the Wetland and Open Space Conservation Act, 2000 came into effect.
Even though the government vowed to save the rivers around the capital, in no instance was the earth used for filling up the water bodies was removed.
The practice of filling up rivers and making false documents with the help of dishonest land officials continues unabated. Despite tough laws, the grabbers could not be resisted due to the lure of the increasing land prices.
In some cases, the government agencies themselves violated the laws and filled up rivers and other water bodies.
The government in 2000 formulated the Wetland and Open Space Conservation Act with an aim to conserve environment in the capital as well as in other urban areas. But no evidence is available that public interest is duly preserved under this law.
Legal experts say this law is being ignored like other environment laws.
“Nobody was punished under this law for filling up wetlands, rivers or canals,” said Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association.
This law specifies a jail term of up to five years or a fine up to Tk 50,000 or both in case of its violation by filling up rivers, canals or wetlands or changing the character of lands without permission.
“Once somebody fills up a portion of a river or wetland, it loses its original character,” said Rizwana Hasan.
Underscoring the importance of protecting wetlands, rivers and canals, the government last year amended the Environment Conservation Act with provision for jailing offenders for up to two years and fining Tk 2 lakh for filling up rivers or other water bodies.
A second-time offender could have 10 years’ imprisonment and be fined up to Tk 10 lakh.
Even this law could not discourage land grabbers as they can always make fake documents and claim portion of rivers or water bodies as their inherited properties.
The enforcement and monitoring wing of the Department of Environment has been conducting drives against illegal land filling. They have fined a number of people in recent months.
For the first time, the environment department was able to arrest one person in January this year.
It had Hazi Mahbub, a known river grabber of Kamrangirchar, detained for filling up a portion of the Buriganga.
This, too, failed to shoo away other land grabbers.
Recently, the enforcement and monitoring wing stopped earth filling by Aslamul Haque, an Awami League lawmaker, in the capital. Aslamul, himself a member of the River Saving Taskforce, was filling up a portion of Aati canal and that of the Buriganga in Keraniganj without taking any environment clearance certificate.
Later the lawmaker wrote to the DoE for permission for earth filling in the low-lying land.
Even though the law specifies what punishment the judiciary may mete out to violators, it does not direct the government to restore the original characteristics of the damaged water bodies.
Influential people continue to possess the occupied riverbanks obtaining status quo from the court against any eviction drive.
At least one hundred such installations exist in and around the capital where the grabbers have obtained status quo from the court through legal loopholes and turned everything in their favour.
The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) or the district administration could not take legal action against the encroachers following the status quo.
BIWTA insiders say the court orders go in favour of the grabbers, as they never mention they were filing petitions regarding riverbanks and often produce fake documents to mislead the court.
“Most of the times they use false information saying the land belonged to them. We file cases but it takes a long time to free the land from the grabbers,” said Sharif Afzal Hossain, senior deputy director of BIWTA.
BIWTA itself has also violated the court order by constructing several commercial installations on riverbanks.
On both sides of the BIWTA office at Sadarghat, the river saving authorities have constructed business sheds on filled up parts of the Buriganga.
It even constructed a jetty filling up the Shitalakhya at Kanchpur after the High Court on June 25, 2009 issued directives to demolish all structures in the rivers.
In addition, it filed a petition with the HC seeking directives not to demolish commercial establishments it had permitted for installation of different industries and business houses on the four rivers.
In its petition, the BIWTA had used the name of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a fervent supporter of save-the-rivers campaign, to get the court order in its favour.
But the court rejected the appeal.
Failing to comply with the HC order, the government has recently appealed to the court for two more years to implement the order that asked to remove all the structures from rivers.


Courtesy of The Daily Star

Related News

Hajj registration extended till Jan 18

News Desk : The government, in a notice issued yesterday, extended the Hajj registration deadline for 2024 until January 18. It said aspiring Hajis would have to primarily deposit Tk 2.05 lakh, while the rest should be paid by February 29 for final registration. One has to pay Tk 5,78,840 under the general package, ... Read more

Dense fog disrupts communications across Bangladesh

News Desk : Cold and dense fog continued to disrupt life with road, air and waterways communication remaining suspended in the early hours of Tuesday as Bangladesh braces for this winter’s first cold wave likely to set in today. Authorities also confirmed until Tuesday the death of 14 people in cold-related diseases and road ... Read more

27,000 GPA 5 achievers not to get seat in public universities

Shahin Akhter Over 27,000 GPA 5 achievers in this year’s HSC and equivalent examinations cannot be admitted to the public universities due to fewer seats. A total of 92,595 examinees secured GPA 5 out of total 10,67,852 passed in the Higher Secondary Certificate examinations this year. But there are around 65,400 seats at the public ... Read more

Magnitude 5.5 earthquake jolts Dhaka, other parts of Bangladesh

News Desk : A magnitude 5.5 earthquake struck Bangladesh this morning, the United States Geological Survey said, with no immediate reports of damage. The earthquake jolted different parts of the country including Dhaka around in Ramganj of Cumilla at 9:35am, reports The Daily Star quoting Meteorologist Rubayet Kabir of Bangladesh Meteorological Department. The quake ... Read more

250cc Bajaj Pulsar N250 launched in Bangladesh

News Desk : Uttara Motors, the manufacturer and distributor of Bajaj motorcycles in Bangladesh, has recently launched The Pulsar N250 motorcycle. Pulsar N250 comes with a price tag of Tk339,999 and is available in three different colours. The motorcycle with a 250 cc oil-cooled engine has got dual channel antilock braking system (ABS). Indian ... Read more

HSC, equivalent exam results tomorrow

News Desk : The results of this year’s Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and its equivalent examinations will be published tomorrow. The copy of the results will be handed over to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina tomorrow morning. Later in the day, the results will be officially announced by Education Minister Dipu Moni at a press ... Read more

Gold hits record with a bhori of Tk 106,376

News Desk : The jewelry makers of the country has increased 22-carat gold price by Tk 1,750 today. Tomorrow, the price of 22-carat gold will reach a historic high of Tk 106,376 per bhori. The new price is 1.67 percent higher than the previous all-time high of Tk 104,626 per bhori (11.664 grammes) recorded ... Read more

Gold’s price reaches a new peak

News Desk : Gold price in the country has surged to a record Tk1.04 lakh per bhori due to a rise in the rates of pure gold in the local market. The price of the best quality gold or one bar of 22-carat (11.664 grams) gold has been increased by Tk 1,750 to Tk104,626 ... Read more

Bangladesh permits 375cc domestically produced motorcycles

News Desk : Bangladesh government has allowed locally made motorcycles of up to 375cc along with the existing imported motorcycles of up to 165cc to facilitate the expansion of the local industrial sector. The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, under the road transport and bridges ministry, on Wednesday issued a circular in this regard. It ... Read more

Four-day tourism festival begins in Dhaka

News Desk : A four-day long festival to boost local tourism will be launched on September 27 in Dhaka to celebrate World Tourism Day 2023. The Bangladesh Tourism Board under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism will organise the festival titled ‘Bangladesh Festival’ at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre. The festival will be ... Read more

Bangladesh Railway launches luggage vans with intercity trains

News Desk : To significantly increase the supply of perishable items, agricultural and other goods, Bangladesh Railway (BR) combined luggage vans with intercity trains on Sunday. The first van was combined with Sylhet bound intercity train “Joyantika Express”. Jayantika Express transported 4,600 kg of goods from Dhaka to Sylhet as Bangladesh Railway’s first intercity ... Read more

Bangabandhu Tunnel: Government sets toll ranging from Tk200 to Tk1,000

News Desk : The government has set toll rates for using the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel built under the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram, ranging from 200 Tk for cars to 1,000 Tk for 4-axle trailers, which is slated for inauguration in September. The Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges issued a circular in ... Read more

516 people died in road accidents in June

News Desk : At least 516 people were killed and 812 more injured in 559 road accidents in June this year, said a Road Safety Foundation report published on Wednesday. Of the accidents, involvement of motorcycles was the highest 37.03 per cent and the highest 32.75 per cent people were killed in the motorcycle ... Read more

SSC exams to be held on full syllabus in February next year

News Desk : The Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and equivalent exams for 2024 will be held in the first week of February. It will be the first time the exams return to their traditional schedule after a four-year disruption caused by the pandemic. The exams will cover all subjects as per the full syllabus ... Read more

Eid-ul-Azha: BR to sell all advance tickets online from June 14

News Desk : Bangladesh Railway will start selling advance train tickets from 14 June to tackle the home rush on the occasion of the upcoming Eid-ul-Adha. The authorities will start selling tickets from June 14 at two different time slots to reduce the load on its server. The West Zone will start selling tickets ... Read more

A lucky escape

News Desk : Mocha makes landfall in Myanmar, weakens; causes no serious damage in Bangladesh Cyclone Mocha veered towards Myanmar and eventually made landfall there a few hours earlier than forecast and it did not cause massive damage that many in Bangladesh feared. Around 13,500 houses were affected by the cyclone in Cox’s Bazar, ... Read more

Mocha starts crossing Cox’s Bazar coast, wind speed up to 215 kmph: BMD

News Desk : The very severe cyclone Mocha has started crossing Cox’s Bazar-north Myanmar coast and is likely to move north-northeasterly direction further and complete crossing Cox’s Bazar-North Myanmar coast near Sittwe of Myanmar by afternoon or evening on Sunday, according to the latest bulletin of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department on Sunday morning. The ... Read more

Mocha approaches coast with 200 kmph speed

News Desk : Cyclone Mocha is approaching the coastal areas of Bangladesh and Myanmar with a maximum wind speed of 200 kmph, said the latest weather bulletin of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department. According to the bulletin, at 6:00pm, the very severe cyclonic storm was centred about 605km south-southwest of Chattogram port, 525km south-southwest of ... Read more

Cyclone Mocha intensifies into ‘extremely severe cyclonic storm’: IMD

News Desk : Mocha has intensified into an extremely severe cyclonic storm over east central Bay of Bengal and was 760km south southwest of Cox’s Bazar at 2:30am (local time) today, according to the Indian Met Department’s last update. It is moving north-northeastwards and likely to intensify further and cross Bangladesh and Myanmar coasts ... Read more

Bangladesh coastal areas are under danger signal number 8

News Desk : Bangladesh is ready to evacuate about a million people in Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar as the very severe cyclonic storm over the east central Bay of Bengal looked ferocious with rapid intensification and is forecast to begin to have impacts on the south-east coast of the country from Saturday night. The ... Read more