The High Court Division on Thursday directed the government to protect all the reserve forest land in the country for any use other than forestation.
The court also cancelled the lease given by deputy commissioner of Chattogram for the construction of a ship-breaking yard inside the notified reserve forest at Uttar Salimpur, Sitakunda.
A bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Khandaker Diliruzzaman pronounced the verdict after hearing a public interest litigation writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association.
BELA challenged the legality of allocating 7.10 acre of reserved forest land in Uttar Salimpur in favour of BBC Steel Limited on lease for the constructing ship-breaking yard on December 26, 2018 and extension of the lease on March 21, 2019
Abul Kashem locally known as ‘King Kashem’ is the owner of BBC Steel Ship Breaking Yard.
At the hearing BELA’s lawyer Syed Rizwana Hasan submitted that out of the 400-acre reserved forest land, the DC illegally allocated 7.10 acre for the constructing the ship breaking yard flouting the Appellate Division’s directive issued on October 6, 2013.
She submitted that in the directive Appellate Division banned leasing out reserved forest land for any use other than forestation.
The Appellate Division had issued the directive after declaring as illegal leasing out of the reserved forest’s land for the construction of 16 ship breaking yards on the Chattagram coast.
The High Court Division in its verdict directed the government not to allow leasing out reserved forest land, notified in gazette and to protect all reserved forest across the country.
It expressed dismay against the environment and forest ministry for nor moving the court against leasing out the forest land by the DC for the construction of ship breaking yard.
On December 22, 1985, the government declared 1.65 acres of land as reserved forest and later trees were planted on 400 acres of thee reserved forest land in Uttar Salimpur, Sitakunda.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan was assisted by her juniors Minhajul Haque Chowdhury and Sayeed Ahmed Kabir.
Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury appeared for the ship breaking yard.
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