The High Court on Wednesday observed that time has come to declare Bangladesh's capital Dhaka as an ecologically critical area due to widespread pollution, reports UNB.

An HC bench of justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore and justice Mohammad Ullah made the observation while hearing a contempt of court rule against the Dhaka Wasa managing director for providing false information over the pollution of the Buriganga river and the legality of the operation of mills and factories without ETPs.

Lawyer Siddiqur Rahman argued for Industries Owners' Association of Shyampur while Amatul Karim represented the Department of Environment (DoE) and lawyer Manzill Murshid stood for the petitioner.

At one stage of hearing, the court, citing media reports, said Dhaka is among the most polluted cities of the world. "It ranks 2nd to 3rd on the list. Now, it needs to be declared as an ecologically critical area," Manzill Murshid quoted the court as saying.

When he expressed solidarity with the opinions, the court told him that he could file a supplementary or separate appeal over the issue.

The court heard arguments from factory owners. They tried to convince the court that they have right to continue their business.

On 8 December last, the same bench ordered Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) to remove its sewerage lines connected to the Buriganga river within the next six months.

Responding to a time extension petition by WASA, it had also asked the government agency to submit a progress report within a month.

Meanwhile, the WASA managing director offered an unconditional apology to the court for falsely claiming in an affidavit on 18 June last that no sewerage line was connected to Buriganga.

The DoE was ordered to seal off industrial farms discharging wastes into the river and those running without its clearance.

On 4 December, the HC directed WASA to take necessary steps to close its 68 sewerage lines connected to Buriganga to prevent pollution.

It also asked Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) to take steps to stop other sewerage lines, if any, on both banks of the river and submit a compliance report within 7 January next.

On 17 November, the HC directed DoE to shut 27 establishments adjacent to the Buriganga within 15 days for not having environmental clearance.

Besides, the court issued a show-cause notice asking why action should not be taken against the Dhaka WASA managing director for submitting false information in the form of an affidavit.

It was learnt that Dhaka WASA, in its affidavit, said its 930-km sewerage line disposes wastes at Pagla sewerage treatment plant and no line is connected to the Buriganga.

However, a BIWTA report said Wasa dumps industrial and hospital wastes, and contaminated water into the Buriganga through 68 sewerage lines at different places of Dhaka, Keraniganj, and Narayanganj.

After comparing the two reports, the HC said Dhaka WASA submitted false information which is tantamount to a crime.

In 2011, the High Court issued directives to prevent the pollution of Buriganga after hearing a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh.

As the HC order went unheeded, the organisation filed an appeal again in this regard.