The Department of Environment on Wednesday fined the Chittagong Development Authority (CDA) Tk10.38 crore for cutting 18 hills and destroying biodiversity and ecology.
The CDA was fined for the project titled "Link Road from Dhaka Trunk Road to Baizid Bostami Road Including Loop Road at the Periphery of Asian University of Woman (AUW)".
Rubina Ferdousi, monitoring and enforcement director at the environment department, handed down the penalty after a hearing at its head office in Dhaka.
Dr Abdullah Al Mamun, a deputy director at the Department of Environment (DoE), said, "The Chittagong Development Authority was fined for not taking any measure to protect the hills and cutting those beyond its permitted limit."
In 2016, the CDA sought environment clearance for the project. The environment and forest ministry in 2018 permitted the CDA to cut the hills on two conditions.
The conditions include the hill slopes have to cut at a 26.60-degree angle for the durability of the slopes.
Retaining walls have to be built and grasses have to be planted to ensure that there are no negative impact of the hill cutting on the environment, states the second condition.
On an inspection of the project site, the DoE on January 25 found evidence of the cutting of over 10.28 lakh cubic feet of hills against the permitted 2.50 lakh cubic feet. They also cut the hills at 90 degree angle instead of the permitted 26.60 degree angle.
As the hills were formed mainly by sand, the remaining portions of the hills are in a risky state. Many cracks developed in some of the hills.
The construction of the road is at its final stage. Mamun said they did not take adequate measures to protect the hill slopes as per the approved plan. "Lives and assets will be at great risk of landslide once the road is opened to traffic," he added.
Additionally, the Chittagong Development Authority did not submit environmental monitoring plan every three months as per conditions set in the clearance certificate.