PHP had razed 21,750 square feet of hills and KSRM had flattened another 5,540 square feet
Two leading Chittagong-based business groups have been fined Tk9 lakh, in total, for levelling vast hill tracts in Chittagong, to construct roads.
Kabir Steel Re-rolling Mills Ltd and PHP Float Glass Industries Ltd were fined Tk5 lakh and Tk4 lakh, respectively.
On February 23, a Department of Environment (DoE) enforcement team conducted drives in Barabkunda, Sitakunda and found evidence of hill-cutting in the area.
They discovered that PHP had razed 21,750 square feet of hills and KSRM had flattened another 5,540 square feet to construct roads.
The fines were slapped on the two businesses during hearings held at the DoE Chittagong region office on February 27 and March 6 respectively.
Moazzam Hossain, director of DoE (Chittagong) told the Dhaka Tribune that no permission was given in the area to cut or raze hills.
He said: "It is a punishable offence to cut or raze hills without taking the government's permission. That is why both businesses were summoned; to explain why legal actions should not be taken against them for illegally-razing hills. After the hearings, they were fined Tk9 lakh in total."
As per the Environment Conservation (Amendment) Act 2010, hill-cutting is a cognizable offence and no government, semi-government, or autonomous organization is allowed to cut or raze hills without prior permission from the authorities concerned.
The penalty for cutting hills without approval is up to two years of imprisonment, a fine of Tk2 lakhs, or both for a first offence. For a subsequent offence the penalty is up to ten years of rigorous imprisonment, a fine of Tk10 lakh, or both.
Under the terms of Building Construction Rules-1996, a clearance certificate must be obtained from DoE to raze or cutting a hill.