The High Court today issued an injunction restraining the government from felling trees for implementing different development projects in the forests and forest lands across the country for next six months.
In response to a writ petition, the court also directed the authorities concerned of the government to make a time-bound action plan for protecting the forests and forest lands and submit the plan before in in six months.
Besides, the HC issued a rule asking the respondents to explain in four weeks why their failure to protect the forests and forest lands from their conversion for implementing projects should not be declared illegal and why they should not be directed to protect them.
Twenty government high officials concerned including secretaries to the ministries of cabinet division, Jatiya Sangsad, law, forest and environment, LGRD, roads, transport and bridges, youth and sports and energy and mineral resources, chief forest conservator, director general of department of environment, deputy commissioners of Gazipur, Manikganj and Cox’s Bazar have been made respondents to the rule.
The implementation of the government projects will not be stopped following the HC directive, petitioner’s lawyer Syed Rizwana Hasan told The Daily Star.
The HC bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil came up with the order and rule following a writ petition filed by rights organization Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association seeking necessary order to protect the forests and forest lands from their conversations.
In the petition, the organization challenged the legality of conversion of forest and forest lands through cutting trees for implementing projects for establishing petroleum depo on 191.25 acres of land at Maheshkhali forest, a mini-stadium at on 2.34 acres of land at forest land in Chandpur union of Gazipur’s Kapasia and constructing Sigair-Hemayetpur road through cutting its trees in Manikganj.
During hearing today, Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan told the court that the cabinet division of government has cancelled a bill on the tree protection law in 2016 saying that two to five times higher numbers of trees will be planted if the trees from forests and forest lands are cut for implementing the development projects.
But, the government has not planted any tree after cutting trees at the forest and forest lands, he said.
The lawyer prayed to the HC to pass necessary order and issue a rule for protecting the forest and forest land across the country.