Unique Group’s illegal earth filling continues flouting court order

Rashad Ahamad | Updated at 12:48am on September 12, 2018

The Unique Group is continuing its illegal earth filling activities in Sonargaon upazila, Narayganj, flouting Appellate Division’s order.
Affected farmers told New Age that the Unique Group was dumping sand on their crop fields, wetlands and low lying areas.
They said that the crop fields and homesteads of at least 10,000 farmers in 10 villages including Kandargaon and Jhawchar have been submerged under layers of sand dumped by the Unique Group using dredgers.
Villagers lost their livelihood in the vast affected area, 25 km off the capital.
Enayet Ullah Mollah, 70, of Kandargaon said that Unique Group never stopped dumping sand on crop fields and wetlands in the area.
He said that in 2009 the Unique Group began dumping sand on crop fields and wetlands to develop a 2,350-bigha resort on the bank of the Meghna River.
His neighbours said that the group compelled farmers to sell their crop fields at throw away prices and when the villagers refused to sell the realtors forcibly grabbed their land.
They said Narayanganj deputy commissioner took no action against the illegal activities of the Unique Group.
Narayanganj DC Md Rabbi Miah however said that he was not aware about the latest developments in the affected areas.
He said that the Appellate Division ordered him to halt earth filling by the Unique Group and added ‘I know earth filling had been halted.’
On August 14, a four-judge bench of the Appellate Division chaired by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain directed the Narayanganj deputy commissioner to stop the on-going earth filling and to submit a compliance report at the next hearing on October 8.
The court issued the directive after hearing Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association’s appeal against High Court Division’s order of August 9 that shelved BELA’s application seeking HC directive to the Unique Property Development Limited’s managing director Mohammad Noor Ali to halt his company’s earth-filling to comply with a previous directive of the HCD upheld by the Appellate Division.
On March 2, 2014, the High Court Division had directed Unique Property Development Ltd to halt its earth filling and restore the wetlands in
Farmer Nazim Uddin Mollah, 75, told New Age that his 16-bigh crop field, where he used to grow rice and vegetables, had been suddenly grabbed by the Unique Group’s musclemen.
‘I did not sell the inherited land,’ he said.
During a visit to the project area on Thursday, New Age found several dredgers in action.
A new billboard on the entrance of the project area calls on visitors to wait for ‘Sonargaon Economic Zone’.
BELA chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan called it fresh contempt of court.
Unique group started the project in 2009 without approval from the Department of Environment and it was yet to obtain any licence from Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority.
Rizwana said that the illegal earth filling by the group could continue due to the indifference of the authorities.
On October 11, 2011, a mobile court run by the Department of Environment realised Tk 50 lakh as fines from Unique Property Limited finding it guilty of damaging the eco-system and ordered it to halt the illegal activities.
The mobile court also asked the Unique Group to restore farmers’ crop fields by removing sands.
Unique Group managing director Noor Ali could not be reached over phone for comments.
Unique Group’s officials including two advisers and a director refused to make comments over their company’s illegal earth filling.