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Bangladesh - May 25, 2022

HC publishes full verdict banning water taxi

Hatirjheel a public property

Staff Correspondent: The High Court has declared Hatirjheel, an aesthetic area in the capital, a “public property” and ruled that all commercial establishments, including hotels and restaurants, are illegal and out of the jurisdiction.
The High Court ordered the eviction of all commercial establishments in the area within 60 days after receiving a copy of the verdict. Besides, the court has given nine suggestions including four-point instructions in the verdict.
The full 55-page verdict – signed by Justice Md. Ashraful Kamal and Justice Rajik Al Jalil – has been published on the Supreme Court’s website yesterday.
The instructions include the creation of footpaths, bicycle lanes, separate lanes for the physically impaired in the Hatirjheel area, as well as a ban on all such mechanical vehicles like “water taxi services in lakes” that are harmful to the lake water.
According to the ruling, the Hatirjheel area including the Begunbari lake in the capital Dhaka is a “Public Trust Property” and national property as per the constitution, environmental law, water law and Turag River verdict.
The Hatirjheel-Begunbari project was declared a Public Trust Property on June 30, 2021, by the aforesaid bench of the High Court.

About the full verdict on the eviction of Hatirjheel business establishments, the Hig Court said the water of Hatirjheel and its spectacular beauty are “invaluable resources”. This invaluable resource cannot be destroyed or damaged in any way.

Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh filed a writ petition on September 9, 2018, after a report was published in the media about the inactive role of RAJUK in stopping the activities of some business organizations outside the guidelines of the layout plan in the Hatirjheel-Begunbari project. The High Court, on September 10 of that year, issued a rule on the hearing of the writ petition. The court ruled on June 30 last year declaring the writ as “appropriate”.

Advocate ManzilMorshed appeared for the writ petition, he was accompanied by advocates Ripon Baroi and Sanjay Mandal. Advocate Imam Hossain was in favor of RAJUK. Deputy Attorney General Wais Al Haruni and AshequeMomin represented the state.

“Every drop of water is very valuable. There is no other resource in the world that is more valuable than water and drinking water. Therefore, prevention of contamination of water is essential,” the verdict said.

The four-point directive given by the High Court for the preservation and development of the beauty and national resources of Hatirjheel in the verdict is –

  1. According to the constitution, environmental law, water law and Turag River verdict, the Hatirjheel area including Begunbari lake is a Public Trust Property.
  2. Allocation and construction of all kinds of commercial establishments including hotels and restaurants in the Hatirjheel area are illegal as per the constitution, environmental law, water law and Turag River verdict.
  3. All the hotels, restaurants and commercial establishments allotted in the Hatirjheel project area were declared invalid and out of the jurisdiction.
  4. All hotels, restaurants and commercial establishments were ordered to evict within 60 days after receiving a copy of the verdict.

Besides, the High Court also gave advice with 9 points of recommendation on Hatirjheel. These include –

  1. Conservation of the entire Hatirjheel-Begunbari project, form a Hatirjheel Lake Conservation, Development and Management Authority directly under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
  2. The Department of Engineering of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and the 24th Engineering Construction Brigade of the Bangladesh Army have been jointly appointed as permanent consultants in the Hatirjheel project area.
  3. Installation of international standard underground toilets for public use.
  4. Provide free drinking water to the public at designated distances.
  5. Create sidewalks, bicycle lanes and separate lanes for the physically challenged.
  6. Ban the use of all types of mechanical vehicles and water taxi services in the lake as it is harmful to water.
  7. To make the lake a fish sanctuary.
  8. The Hatirjheel-Begunbari project has to be named after Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, the first Bengali scientist in Bangladesh.
  9. Hatirjheel and Begunbari complete project conservation, development and management expenses to be allocated from the revenue budget.

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