Green activists and local people have alleged that a state-sponsored joint venture was razing and cutting hills and hillocks and felling trees at Sonarpara of Moheshkhali upazila in Cox’s Bazar violating conditions imposed by the Department of Environment.
The green activists also alleged that the project officials hid information during the approval of prime minister Sheikh Hasina and now they were showing that documents to justify the hill cutting on the project site of ‘single point mooring with double pipeline’.
Talking to New Age over phone on Thursday, a number of local people alleged that the razing of hills continued.
A team of Cox’s Bazar-based voluntary organisation Youth Environment Society visited the site area on December 6 and found that a number of excavators had already cut and razed hills, and currently razing of two more hills was under process.
Society chief executive Ibrahim Khalil Mamun said that the people in the neighbourhood even dared no to protest although they were in fear of mudslide in rainy season.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association executive director Syeda Rizwana Hasan said that they were also informed about the tree felling and hill razing and they were now gathering information formally.
Environment department assistant director Saiful Ashraf in Cox’s Bazar said,
‘No action has been taken as we are informed that the hills are being cut with the approval from the prime minister.’
Assistant commissioner (land) Hasan Maruf said that approval for cutting one hill or two to maintain the alignment of two pipelines was given by the environment department following the prime minister’s approval.
He said that there might have allegations of cutting hillocks at night.
Earlier on March 1, 2017, energy and mineral resources division initiated a summary seeking policy approval from the prime minister for cutting, razing and dressing hills and hillocks for installation of pumping and tank under the single point mooring with double pipeline project.
The summary signed by Hasina on March 19, 2017 stated that hills and hillocks could be cut or razed for the sake of national interest subject to approval of the environment department.
The summary also stated that no hill would be cut during the implementation of the project rather some soils would be razed.
In a clearance issued on April 20, 2017, the environment department allowed the energy ministry to continue the project in the forest-based island upazila on 29 conditions, stating, ‘No activity of cutting, razing or dressing of hill or hilly land is endorsed under this clearance without due permission or clearance of the authorities
It also stated that permission needed to be obtained from the forest department for cutting and felling of any plant, tree or sapling.
According to the power, energy and mineral recourses ministry, a contract agreement was signed between Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation and China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau for the installation of single point mooring with double pipeline on December 8, 2016.
Petroleum corporation chairman Shamsur Rahman said that he visited the project site on December 11, 2018 and found no indication of cutting of hills or trees and most of the work was underground.
He said they would build six oil reservoirs there to bring oil to Chattrogram from Cox’s Bazar through underground pipeline to reach out to Eastern Refinery Limited.
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