Liberation War Affairs Minister says the cutting of trees is being stopped and the design of the planned structure will change if necessary
The High Court has asked Attorney General (AG) AM Amin Uddin to take necessary action to stop the felling of trees at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka till May 20.
The court also scheduled May 20 for the hearing of a contempt of court petition filed against the government for clearing trees and erecting a restaurant at Suhrawardy Udyan, notwithstanding the High Court's 2009 ruling.
The bench headed by Justice Mamnoon Rahman and Justice Khandaker Diliruzzaman passed the order verbally on Tuesday after lawyer Manzill Murshid placed the petition and arguments before it.
Meanwhile, Liberation War Affairs Minister AQM Mozammel Haque on Tuesday also told reporters that the cutting of trees will be stopped for now.
“The design [of the planned structure] may also change if necessary. I will personally inspect and make the next decision after talking to environmentalists. A committee has also been formed to look into this,” he said.
Addressing a press conference at the ministry, Mozammel also said: "So far 50 trees have been cut down. Another 50 trees may get cut down. However, I have decided not to let that happen for the time being without conducting tests, on-the-spot inspections and talking to experts.”
“If the trees were cut down just to build the walkway, then that incident is tragic. If this happens, action will be taken against the person who suggested it. I did not visit the place myself, which I should have done. I'm sorry about that.
“I did not think such a situation would arise. Hopefully, after this press conference, the misunderstanding about cutting down trees will end,” added the minister.
At High Court, lawyer Manzill Murshid requested that the contempt of court petition be heard on May 17 by the bench, claiming that the matter was of public interest because the trees were cut in violation of the court's 2009 directives, causing environmental damage.
AG Amin Uddin then asked for hearing the contempt of court petition on May 20, saying he needed to speak with government officials to prepare arguments on the matter.
He also said that another writ petition on this matter was pending with another High Court bench and that both petitions could be heard at the same time.
On Sunday, Supreme Court lawyers Mahbubul Islam and Ripan Barai filed the contempt of court petition, asking the court to order three government officials to stop felling trees for opening a restaurant in Suhrawardy Udyan.
However, last Saturday, M Habibul Islam, the project director of the Shawdhinata Stambha construction project (third phase) at Suhrawardy Udyan, had said that no tree will be felled unnecessarily while implementing the project at Suhrawardy Udyan as the government gives priority to saving trees.
"The government will start planting trees in the coming monsoon and at least 1,000 trees will be planted," he said.