Highest court rules Laxmipur chairman must pay royalties against sand extraction

The Appellate Division has ruled that Laxmipur UP Chairman Md Selim Khan must pay a huge amount in royalties against sand extraction from the Meghna river bank.


The Chandpur Deputy Commissioner has been asked to implement the order by ensuring the royalties are collected and paid.


The full text of the judgement announced on May 29 by a bench of three justices led by Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique was released on Monday.


It said since 2016, writ petitioner Selim Khan had been extracting sand from the Meghna river in a part of Chandpur Sadar and Haimchar indiscriminately, without paying any royalties, causing the government to incur a huge loss.


Appellate Division asked to collect the royalties from Selim Khan for the time period starting from April 5, 2018, the date of an earlier High Court order, to April 4, 2022 -when the order was suspended by the Supreme Court.


The bench also expressed suspicion over the High Court battle’s lawyer representing the state, as the order was passed even after the respondent did not submit any affidavit against the rule issued earlier. It also expressed discontent over the silence of law enforcers and Chandpur district administration.


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Since 2016, Salim Khan has been extracting sand from the river following a High Court order which goes against the Balumohal and Soil Management Act, 2010, said Deputy Attorney General Kazi Mainul Hasan. The act stipulates the law according to which sand quarries (balu mahal) are recognised.


In the May 29 verdict this year, the Appellate Division canceled the order following an appeal and published its full text on Monday, Mainul said.


In 2015, Selim Khan filed a writ petition seeking directions for sand extraction after conducting a hydrographic survey in Meghna river at his own expense in 21 mouzas of Chandpur and Haimchar upazila. The writ was filed mentioning to activate a route for water transport.


The High Court issued a rule on July 9 of the same year on the primary hearing of the writ petition.


Later, on 5 April 2018, the High Court disposed of the rule delivering verdict saying that there is sufficient sand and soil in the river of those mouzas and there is no obstacle to extracting it.


The verdict directed the defendants, including Chandpur deputy commissioner, to allow sand extraction of 86.30 cubic meters (30.46 crore cubic feet) from the Meghna river in the 21 mouzas.


In March this year, the state filed a leave to appeal to the Appellate Division seeking stay of the High Court order regarding sand extraction in Maghna.


According to the state’s leave to appeal, the High Court did not realize that the hydrographic survey report is not the sole basis for extracting sand from a river under the Balumahal and Soil Management Law.


According to the Balumahal and Soil Management Law, whether there is any damage to the environment, landslides, diversion of river or canal water, government establishments (such as bridges, culverts, roads, ferry terminals, markets, tea gardens, river dams, etc.) and residential areas or not, all have to be considered by the Deputy Commissioner.


Leave to Appeal further said that no assessment has been made from Chandpur deputy commissioner office regarding sand extraction from Chandpur shoals. Even the mouzas mentioned in the writ have not been declared as Balumahal by the Divisional Commissioner.


Hydrographic surveys are used to identify or map where the soil is at the bottom of a river in a modern way. Hydrographic survey is to be done first to extract sand from shoals.


And so, the HC order to allow Selim Khan to extract sand was declared null and void.


Source: United News of Bangladesh