The High Court (HC) issued a rule on Sunday asking the government why its failure to protect River Sutang and its connected Shailajura canal in Habiganj from pollution should not be declared unconstitutional, illegal, and against the public interest.
An HC bench issued the rule after a preliminary public interest litigation hearing filed by the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela).
The court also directed the government to form an independent committee within the next two months to make sure the pollution decreases, instructing the government to test the Shailajura canal water every three months and submit compliance reports to the court.
Notably, from 17 June – 19 June, the Daily Desh Rupantor published three consecutive investigative reports regarding the industrial pollution in Habiganj.
Based on the reports and other published news about Habiganj's River Sutang, the Bela writ petition said the 82-kilometre-long river once played a vital role in the communication and livelihoods of locals.
But industrial waste generated by factories in Alipur of Shayestaganj Upazila in Habiganj is coming down the Shailajura canal and ending up in the river. Due to the persistent pollution, the river's water has become discoloured, with a foul odour, and farmers cannot use the water for irrigation anymore.
The pollution has also endangered the biodiversity of the river. And, humans and non-human life in the vicinity heavily depending on the river water now face increased danger of not only skin diseases but also various other severe ailments.
Bela filed the public interest litigation under these circumstances, filed by lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan.