In the last 16 years,105 cases have been filed with the environment court
The awfully slow pace in investigation by the Department of Environment (DoE) in Chittagong has made a backlog of cases to pile up with the environment court.
On January 25 of 2007, the DoE lodged a case against an individual with Khulshi police station on a charge of razing hills.
However, the DoE authorities could not submit the probe report in the last 12 years.
According to the DoE's Chittagong metropolitan office, 105 cases have been filed with the environment court in the last 16 years.
Of them, only 26 cases have been disposed of, while 29 cases are now under investigation, and charge sheets for 49 cases have been submitted.
Most of the cases filed by the DoE with the environment court are related to hill cutting, brick kilns, and illegal manufacturing of polythene.
Of the 105 cases, 44 cases were filed for razing hills, 22 for illegally manufacturing polythene, 12 for brick kilns, 10 for filling up of ponds, six for releasing untreated liquid waste, two for air pollution, and two for sound pollution.
The DoE officials are the plaintiffs in almost all the cases lodged with the environment court.
Md Saiful Islam, special public prosecutor of Chittagong Divisional Environment Court told the Dhaka Tribune that quick disposal of cases is greatly hindered when investigation proceeds at a snail’s pace.
“The slow pace in probe is lengthening the case disposal. The evidence collected for the cases gets damaged due to the procrastination in investigating the cases.
"Moreover, most of the DoE officials regrettably lack the required expertise or training on how to carry out investigation into the cases properly,” the special public prosecutor said.
DoE Assistant Director (Technical) of Chittagong Metropolitan unit Sangjucta Das Gupta said no witnesses were found as most of the cases were old.
"Moreover, it is difficult to identify where the crime took place if cases get old because the DoE has no surveyor of its own. As a result, identifying location of the cases gets tough by following Dag (plot number) and Khatian (record of rights)."
"Acute manpower shortage, poor logistic support, lack of training, and transfer of officials are also responsible for slow pace of investigation," the DoE official said.
To dispose of environment-related cases, the government had established two courts in Dhaka and Chittagong in 2002. Another court was set up in Sylhet in 2005. In 2002, the government established the Environment Appellate Court in Dhaka.