The court also asks authorities to send the directives to the PM
The High Court has directed the Election Commission (EC) not to allow any individual accused of encroaching on rivers to contest any election, including parliamentary polls.
The High Court bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal, which issued the landmark ruling on river protection on Sunday, also ordered the authorities to send a copy of the verdict to the prime minister.
“Have a copy of the verdict sent to the prime minister, so she can take emergency measures on river encroachment,” the court said.
The court ordered the National River Protection Commission (NRPC) to submit a compliance report regarding the matter within six months, and directed Bangladesh Bank not to provide any loan to land-grabbers, reports UNB.
While delivering the judgment on a writ petition, the court also asked the Education Ministry to take steps to arrange at least an hour-long class on river encroachment, pollution and conservation in all educational institutions every two months, for creating awareness among students about the issue.
The petitioner, Advocate Manzill Murshid, was present in court. Deputy Attorney General Ekramul Hoque and assistant attorney generals Purabi Rani Sharma and Purabi Saha represented the state.
The government was also asked to amend the National River Protection Commission Act, 2013, to make the commission more effective, and submit a report before the court within six months. The amendments ordered include strict punishment and fines for river encroachment, filing of cases and investigation.
The court also asked the government to take all necessary steps to make the NRPC an independent and effective institution.
The High Court also ordered the commission to take necessary measures to protect the natural beauty of the rivers flowing across the country.
In another landmark verdict, the High Court on January 30 declared the Turag River as a legal person, or a living being, to save it from illegal encroachment, and asked the authorities concerned to remove all unauthorized structures from the river within the next 30 days. The court also said the NRPC is the legal custodian of all rivers and canals in the country.
A recent World Bank study said four major rivers around Dhaka – Buriganga, Shitalakhya, Turag and Balu – receive 1.5 million cubic metres of wastewater every day from 7,000 industrial units in the surrounding areas, and another 0.5 million cubic metres from other sources.
The Environment and Forest Ministry enacted a law in 1995 making it mandatory for all industrial units to use effluent treatment plants (ETPs) to save rivers from pollution, but factory owners often violate the law.