DhakaTribune – Two illegal ship-breaking yards evicted after five years

(Written by Tarek Mahmud)

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25 February 2014 - After visiting the spot, the Dhaka Tribune found that the local people are happy with the eviction

A joint team of district administration and forest department yesterday evicted two shipyards which were set up by destroying coastal forest at Maddha Sonaichhari of Sitakunda upazila five years back.

After the eviction drive, the Forest Department has already started planting about 17,500 different varieties of plants on about 15 acres of recovered land, said RSM Munirul Islam, deputy conservator of forests in Chittagong.

Abdullah Arif Mohammad, assistant commissioner of Chittagong, who led the drive, said they had evicted SK Steel and SK Shipyard, owned by AKM Aminul Islam following a direction of the Supreme Court.

He said a bench of the appellate division of the court led by the chief justice on October 6, 2013 had ordered to evict the shipyards built in 2009 while the bench gave a timeframe to complete the eviction by February 27.

“The court also ordered the district administration not to lease the land in future,” said the assistant commissioner, adding that the court also asked to submit report after re-foresting on the land.

In 2009, the illegal occupiers destroyed the forest under Banshbaria beat of Sitakunda range of Forest department and then the forest department filed a case against the grabbers.

The defence received a short-term stay order from the Supreme Court after filing a writ petition with a claim that they have taken the land on lease from the district administration, however, the forest department obstructed them in setting up their establishments.

After visiting the spot, the Dhaka Tribune found that the local people are happy with the eviction.

Officials and employees of the forest department were found busy to plant different trees on the land.

Kamal Uddin, one of the relatives of owner AKM Aminul Islam, said they had not get any notice from court.

The drive started around 10am and continued till 6pm.

One Selim, a local resident, said an influential quarter felled all trees in 2009 and set up the ship-breaking yards which are causing environment pollution in the areas.

The deputy forests conservator Munirul said about 400 acres land of forest department were occupied by 22 ship-breaking yards.

“We lodged cases against the illegally occupiers who destroyed the forest,” he said; adding that the forest department built the mangrove and non-mangrove forest in 1991-92 to protect the coastal belt.