Dhaka – The High Court on Thursday asked the government not to approve any industry within 10 kilometers of Bangladesh part of Sundarbans, the world largest mangrove forest.
A bench comprising of Justice Moinul Islam Chowdhury and Justice JBM Hassan passed the directives after hearing a writ petition filed by Save the Sundarbans Foundation, a non-governmental organization.
The petition came in the heels of a number of media reports that bigger business conglomerates had been purchasing lands near the Sundarbans to set up industry to take advantage of the southern Mongla port.
The petitioner said that construction of such industrial units might cause destruction to the mangrove forest, a UNESCO site and home to about 260 species of birds and other animals, including the Bengal tiger, estuarine crocodile and Indian python.
Bangladesh contains 60 per cent of the 140,000-hectare mangrove forest, while the rest is located in India.
The Sundarbans is already under threat from changes in water quality and increased boat traffic in its river system, according to reports.
The court also asked the government to submit a list of the industries and factories set up within the 10 kilometres of the forest in ten months.
Sheikh Faridul Islam, the president of the foundation, in his writ said the environment and forest ministry issued a gazette notification on August 30, 1999 declaring the 10-km area surrounding the Sundarbans as ecologically critical area.
But the order has been violated by a number of business firms as the Department of Environment reportedly issued site clearance certificate for 150 industries.