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Ban water taxis from ‘priceless’ Hatirjheel, High Court rules

  • Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2022-05-24 19:40:09 BdST

bdnews24
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The High Court has published a full copy of its verdict on the Hatirjheel-Begunbari project, ruling that water taxis should be banned from the lake, described as “public trust property”.

Describing the water and natural beauty of Hatirjheel as “a priceless resource” in the verdict, the court said it cannot be destroyed. It also banned the allocation of hotels, restaurants and other commercial organisations in the project.

The panel of Justice Md Ashraful Kamal and Justice Razik-Al-Jalil announced the verdict on Jun 30, 2021 after hearing a writ petition. The court made the remarks in the full version of the verdict which was published on Tuesday.

Following some media reports, the Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh had filed the writ petition in 2018 seeking an order to remove the structures that are not in the original plan of Hatirjheel.

”Every drop of water is valuable. No resource can be more valuable than water, especially pure drinking water. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the pollution of every drop of water,” the full verdict reads.

The court provided the following directives and recommendations:

Directives:

# According to the constitution, Environment Act, Water Act and Turag River Act, the Begunbari-Hatirjheel area, which is the “lung of Dhaka”, is a “public trust property”.

# Any commercial establishment, including hotels and restaurants in the Hatirjheel are illegal according to the constitution, Environment Act, Water Act and Turag River Act. 

# All commercial establishments, including hotels and restaurants in the Hatirjheel Project area are declared illegal.

# All commercial establishments, including hotels and restaurants, are ordered to be evicted within 60 days of receiving the copy of the verdict.

RECOMMENDATIONS

# A separate authority should be constituted under the direct supervision of the prime minister to conserve, develop and maintain the Hatirjhell-Begunbari Project.

# Appoint BUET’s civil engineering department and the Army’s 24th Brigade as the consultants of the project. 

# The authorities must construct underground toilets and arrange for drinking water, ways for the movement of people with disabilities and separate cycle lanes in Hatirjheel.

# All types of motorised vessels and water taxis should be banned as they are harmful to the water.

# The lake must be turned into a sanctuary for fish. 

# The Hatirjheel-Begunbari project should be renamed after renowned Bengali scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose.

# Revenue budget fund should be allocated to conserve, develop and maintain the Hatirjhell-Begunbari Project.

Manzill Murshid, the lawyer for the petitioner Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, hailed the verdict as “significant”. RAJUK appealed against the verdict after it was announced, but their appeal was turned down.

“As the verdict has been published now, they can file a regular appeal and the court will give its final decision. We hope the court will uphold this verdict,” Murshid said.