Against the political clout and the leverage the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association allegedly enjoys, the Appellate Division’s verdict on Sunday rejecting their petition for a review of an earlier verdict ordering the demolition of the illegally constructed building is welcome and promising. The Appellate Division upheld a High Court judgement and ordered the demolition of 15-storey BGMEA Bhaban which was constructed on Dhaka’s precious water body Hatirjheel Lake. According to a New Age report published on Monday, the court in response to the appeal filed the same day by the BGMEA for granting extended time for the demolition of the illegally built building asked the former to submit a formal petition on Thursday. While it is true that a multi-storied establishment with working offices cannot be demolished overnight, there needs a well worked-out plan for structural demolition as well as relocation of the offices housed in the building. However, it is also true that the apparel owners’ association had a plenty of time to take preparation to relocate their office as the High Court verdict ordering the demolition of the building came in 2011. Therefore, BGMEA’s plea for preparatory time should not stand against the timely implementation of the verdict of demolition.
Quite intriguingly, the attorney general, the highest law officer of the state, observed on Sunday that such a huge building would not have been built in a water body had the environmentalists been vocal against it during the construction. If the attorney general really believes so, it is high time that he advised the government to abandon the idea of constructing the controversial Rampal power plant negating fierce opposition of various environmentalists’ groups. Green campaigners, especially those tied to the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas and Mineral resources, Power and Ports, have been protesting against the coal-based power project since the incumbents unveiled the plan to set up the plant — a joint venture between the sate-owned Power Development Board of Bangladesh and India’s state-run National Thermal Power Corporation. Main concerns have been that the proposed power plant would destroy Sundarbans — the largest mangrove forest of the world. What is more unfortunate is that the government has been violently repressive against anti-Rampal thermal plant protesters. Now, as the chief law officer of the state whose key duty is to defend the constitution of the state, the attorney general never uttered a word against the incumbents’ unconstitutional tactics to tackle the rising protests in the period.
If the attorney general truly believes that protests from environmentalists would have been able to stop the government of the day from allowing the apparel trade body to illegally construct the building, he should immediately stand by the ongoing anti-Rampal protests. Meanwhile, the present prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, who laid the foundation stone of the BGMEA building in 1998 and former prime minister Khaleda Zia who inaugurated the structure in 2006 should regret making such a serious mistake by allowing the apparel body to illegally construct the huge building on the lake.
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