HC asks govt not to issue environmental clearance to Hallmark

The High Court yesterday directed the Department of Environment (DoE) not to issue any environment and site clearance certificates to Hallmark Group for establishing an industrial park in Savar for the next four months, reports the Daily Star.

In response to a writ petition, the court ordered the business group authorities to stop for the same period any kind of earth-filling in Kandibaliarpur, Nandankhali, Jamur, Muchipara and Vopri moujas of Savar upazila for establishing the industrial park.

A little known Hallmark Group had started setting up the park on a 100-bigha plot of land in the moujas, which were identified as agricultural and rural residential areas in the master plan of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), according to the petition.

The HC also stayed for four months the environment ministry’s decision to waive BDT 3.6 million (EUR 36,000) from a penalty of BDT 4 million (EUR 40,000) slapped on the company by the DoE.

The company was fined for taking up the project in the area including the wetland of the Dhaleswari river to the south of Singair Bridge without obtaining the mandatory environmental clearance certificate.

But an appellate body of the environment ministry on May 10 cut the penalty substantially.

Paribesh Bachao Andolan (Poba) filed the writ petition on Sunday challenging the legality of Hallmark Group’s move to establish the industrial park in the area. The environmentalist group said the company ventured into the project violating the environment protection law and without obtaining approval from the authorities concerned.

After hearing the petition, the court issued a rule upon the authorities concerned to explain within four weeks why the company’s initiative to establish the industrial park should not be declared illegal.

In the rule, the bench of Justice Mirza Hussain Haider and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo also asked the authorities concerned to explain why the environment secretary’s decision to slash the fine should not be declared illegal.

Secretaries to the ministries of housing and public works, environment, land, industries and water resources, director general of DoE, Rajuk chairman, deputy commissioner of Dhaka, managing director of Hallmark Group, upazila nirbahi officer of Savar and two others were made respondents to the rule.

Advocate AM Aminuddin appeared for the petitioner.