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Authorities now illegally cutting hills in Chittagong

  • Published at 05:19 pm November 3rd, 2016
  • Last updated at 11:26 pm November 3rd, 2016
Authorities now illegally cutting hills in Chittagong
An investigation team from the Department of Environment, Chittagong (DoE) paid a visit to the housing project site on October 31 and found evidence of hills being razed by the CDA. Silimpur residential area is the first housing project undertaken in 1962 to develop plots on 166.18 acres of land. The project was approved by the Housing and Public Works Ministry on March 30, 2014. The deadline of the project will expire in June 2017. The three-member investigation team from the DoE found the evidence that hills were being demolished in at least four locations. During the inspection, it was found that Taher Brothers Ltd, a contractor company, was flattening the hills as per the agreement with the CDA. Another inspection on October 23, the contractor was found  was cutting hills at three places of the same housing project with an excavator, three drum trucks and two bulldozers. The DoE had also issued a notice to the CDA on May 29, 2014, for razing hills at Silimpur Residential Area.    As per Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 (amended 2010), it is prohibited by any individual or any institution to cut or raze hills or hillocks owned or possessed by government or semi-government or autonomous institution or any individual. Any hill or hillock could be cut or razed in national interests after obtaining a clearance certificate from the environment regulator. In the wake of primary evidence of razing hills, the DoE Chittagong office issued notices to the CDA and the contracting firm Taher Brothers Ltd. Responding to the letter dated on September 20 this year, Tahera Ferdous Begum, secretary of the CDA said that some uneven portions of the housing project needed to be leveled and dressed. The CDA secretary also sought necessary cooperation for leveling and dressing the uneven portions for construction of roads to compete the project within the deadline. Replying to the notice, contracting firm Taher Brothers Ltd said that it suspended the leveling and dressing work of the project from October 23 of this year, complying with the directives of the DoE.    Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Md Masud Karim, director of the Chittagong DoE said, “The CDA in its letter issued on September 20 mentioned that it was leveling and dressing some uneven portions and constructing roads in the project area. However, we have found clear evidence that hills were cut in at least four parts of the hills which is clear violations of the environment law.” “Both the CDA and the contracting firm Taher Brothers must face legal actions for cutting hills contravening the rules. We have already lodged an enforcement lawsuit against the offenders with the Director General of the DoE under Section 7 of Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995,” Masud added. Refuting the allegation, the CDA Chairman Abdus Salam, told the Dhaka Tribune that no hills or hillocks were razed in the housing project. “We are just dressing some uneven portions, nothing else. We are developing the project on humanitarian grounds as most of the plots are owned by the CDA employees,” he said.
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