HC stays allotment of 700-acre protected forest for civil service academy

High CourtFile photo

The High Court on Monday stayed for three months a government order on allotment of 700 acres of land of protected forest in Cox’s Bazar for building a civil service academy.

The bench of justice Md Mozibur Rahman Mia and Md Kamrul Hossain Molla passed the order and issued a rule on why the order will not be declared illegal followed by a writ petition filed in this regard.

The court asked cabinet, environment, land and public administration secretaries to reply to the rule within four weeks.

Lawyer Moniruzzaman Kabir presented the petitioner’s side during the hearing while deputy attorney general Bipul Bagmar appeared for the state.

On 5 September, news was published in various media outlets where it was mentioned that 700 acres of forest land had been allotted for the construction of a training academy for government officials at Jhilongja.

The area of Jhilongja forest adjacent to Cox's Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive is an ecologically critical area, the writ said.

The ministry of land has allotted the forest land despite opposition from the parliamentary standing committee on the ministry of environment, forest and climate change.

The area was declared reserved by the British government in 1935 and until now the forest department was looking after it. According to the Forest Act only the forest department has the jurisdiction to lease or not a forest land containing hills and waterfalls.

But the land ministry allotted the land to the public administration ministry.

Petitioner Md Moniruzzaman said, “The highest court of the country has passed order to protect critically endangered forest area, but a government ministry has given order to destroy 700 acres of such land.”

Constructing the academy will cause a terrible environmental hazard in the area, he said.