Tannery shifting must by Feb: HC

Demarcation of the rivers around the capital will be determined within four months apparently in a last-ditch effort to save the dying rivers from encroachers and polluters.

Rampant pollution and indiscriminate encroachment on the Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakkhya continued as the government agencies pinned the blame on loopholes in the laws, while the court observed that the government was slow in taking action.

Against this backdrop, a High Court bench on Thursday directed the deputy commissioners (DCs) of Dhaka, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Munshiganj to give their opinions on steps to save the rivers.

The DCs told the HC bench of Justice ABM Khairul Haque and Justice Mamtazuddin Ahmed at their court chamber yesterday that they would conduct a survey to demarcate the rivers and identify the encroachers.

The HC bench expressed disappointment over pollution of the rivers and said the government must shift the tanneries in Hazaribagh to Savar by February 28, 2010 as per its earlier direction.

Earlier in 2001, the HC in a judgment directed the government to take adequate measures to control pollution in the industrial units and factories.

But that direction was not implemented till date.

Court sources say the bench observed that it will continue proceedings with this environment related case until its directives to prevent pollution are implemented and its findings on this issue will be sent to the prime minister with recommendations for consideration.

The court fixed June 22 for delivering further order on the matter.

DC of Dhaka Md Zillar Rahman told the court the survey of the rivers can be conducted in two categories — Cadastral Survey and Revisional Survey.

The original boundaries of the rivers can be determined through the Cadastral Survey and the present conditions of the rivers can be identified with pictures through the Revisional Survey, he added.

He said it could be determined who are the illegal occupiers and encroachers of the rivers through the Revisional Survey.

Zillar prayed to the court to direct his authorities not to transfer him during the surveys and direct the inspector general of police, deputy inspector general (DIG) and Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner to ensure security of the magistrates, policemen and survey officials.

Gazipur DC Md Kamaluddin Talukder informed the court that his office has started demolishing illegal structures on the river Turag in association with Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).

He said his office needs sufficient manpower and logistic support in order to conduct the survey on the rivers.

Md Mosharraf Hossain, DC of Munshiganj, said the flow of the rivers Shitalakkhya and Buriganga, which have conjoined in Mukterpur in Munshiganj, is being seriously hampered as the riverbeds are being filled up.

He suggested dredging of the rivers for free flow of waters.

Supporting the statements, DC of Narayanganj Md Shamsur Rahman said steps must be taken to save the rivers from pollution and encroachment.

The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) officials also informed the HC that environment and water in Dhaka are being polluted due to illegal sewerage connection made by the house owners in the city.

They said no ground water will be available in the city after 10 years as water layer is going down and the environment is being polluted.

They suggested making it mandatory for the industries to have their own effluent treatment plants (ETP) and for the house owners to have safety tanks in every building in the city.

Additional Attorney General MK Rahman performing as the attorney general, Deputy Attorney General Mostafa Zaman Islam, Wasa Managing Director Md Shahjahan Ali, Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) Chief Executive Officer Md Nurul Huq, petitioner of the river encroachment case advocate Asaduzzaman Siddiqui and Chief Executive of BELA Rezwana Hasan, among others, attended the two-hour-long meeting.

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