The High Court on Tuesday issued a contempt rule against four secretaries among ten government officials and a public representative for failing to evict illegal establishments on Saint Martin’s Island, despite a 2011 order to do so.
The rule, issued by Justice Md. Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Ashish Ranjan Das, also asked the authorities concerned why contempt of court proceedings against them should not be initiated.
The government officials are secretaries to the ministries of environment and forests, civil aviation and tourism, shipping, fisheries and livestock, chairman of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, director general of Department of Environment, it’s Chittagong divisional director, Cox’s Bazar DC, SP and district council’s chief executive officer, while the other is Saint Martin’s union parishad chairman.
The ruling came in response to a recent contempt of court petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA).
Referring to a survey done in 2007, BELA’s lawyer Syed Ahmed Kabir told reporters that there had been 74 illegal structures on the country’s lone coral island then.
In 2009, the environment lawyers’ platform, based on the information, had filed a writ petition seeking a court order to evict the establishments. Finally, the High Court in 2011 asked the authorities concerned to demolish the structures, ordering not to build any further establishments and to protect the existing endangered species on the island.
But, defying the court order, many hotels, motels and other structures have been erected on the ecologically critical area over the years, risking a great threat to its biodiversity immensely.