Human-animal conflict: Woman dies after being trampled by elephant in Bandarban

A 20-year-old woman died after being injured by an elephant in Bandarban’s Lama upazila.

The deceased was identified as Rahima Begum, daughter of Solaiman Mia at Aziznagar union of Lama upazila, said SM Kaiser, divisional forest officer of Lama.

He told The Daily Star that a mother elephant attacked a house in Aziznagar, killing the girl.  

Asian Elephants, an endangered species, call the forests and hills around Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar their home. As important habitats shrink, human-elephant conflict grows.


Holholiya river erosion: Locals in Kurigram contribute to construct bamboo barrier

Villagers in Kurigram’s Rowmari upazila have contributed in construction of bamboo pilings to protect their land from Holholiya river erosion.

To prevent erosion across one kilometre stretch of the river, they have already constructed eight bamboo barriers and will make two more within three to four days, our Kurigram correspondent reports quoting villagers.

Around 5,000 families from Dhanarchar, Natun Gram, Diglapara and Charpara villages have contributed for the protection of various structures including houses, arable land, schools, mosques-madrasas, and cemeteries along the river, Mobarak Ali, a UP member, told The Daily Star.

Aminur Rahman, a teacher at Char Kodalkati started the work voluntarily two weeks ago by coordinating with the villagers, reports our Kurigram correspondent.

“Due to no allocation of government funds, villagers voluntarily constructed the pilings. I appealed to the Water Development Board and local administration to take steps to prevent the erosion,” Jaduchar UP Chairman Sharbesh Ali told our correspondent.

Rowmari Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Al Imran said the villagers, on their own have almost completed the work to prevent the river erosion temporarily.

He has also assured the villagers that he will talk to the Water Development Board authorities before the onset of monsoon and take steps to build a permanent dam.


Bangladesh seeks US’s technical support in preserving Sundarbans: foreign minister

Bangladesh has sought US’ technical cooperation in preserving the Sundarbans, the last of South Asia’s mangrove forest, and for management of water resources.

“Bangladesh needs technology transfer from the US,” Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said when US Ambassador Earl Miller met the foreign minister at his office today.

Recalling his recent telephone discussion with US Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Momen reiterated Bangladesh’s keenness to work with the US, both bilaterally and multilaterally, on the issue of climate change, including during the upcoming COP26 of the UNFCCC to be held in Glasgow, United Kingdom in November 2021.

Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, having a large coastal region that faces risks of inundation with the sea level rise caused by the melting of glaciers amid rising global temperature.

Bangladesh is now the chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and is set working on behalf of the climate vulnerable countries in the global negotiations to limit carbon emission as well as climate finance.

Joe Biden’s joining the Paris Climate Agreement has generated high hopes on the issue of tackling climate change.

During the meeting, Momen and Miller discussed ways and means to further enhance the existing bilateral relations between two friendly nations and agreed on the prospect of closer ties after the assumption of the new US Administration.

He sought more US investment in the Economic Zones and High-Tech parks, a prioritized area of development.

The foreign minister thanked for the continued support from the US on the Rohingya issue, underscoring that the repatriation of them remains the priority for Bangladesh.

Momen also reiterated that Rashed Chowdhury, the convicted killer of the Father of the Nation, should be deported from the US without further delay. 

The US Ambassador observed that Bangladesh is gaining growing importance within South Asia due to the socio-economic progress being achieved, while reiterating his country’s appreciation for Bangladesh for the humanitarian undertaking related to the Rohingya crisis.

Miller said the US remains as the most vocal in this regard.

He assured continued US engagement in Bangladesh’s socio-economic development.


4 brick kilns in Gazipur fined Tk 20 lakh by DoE

A mobile court of Department of Environment (DoE) today fined four brick kilns Tk 20 lakh for environment pollution in Kaliganj upazila of Gazipur.

DoE Deputy Director Abdus Salam confirmed that Kazi Tamjeed Ahmed, executive magistrate of DoE’s Monitoring and Enforcement led the mobile court.

The action has been taken against the authorities of four brick kilns as they established the brick fields illegally near crop fields violating the environment act.

Of them, Farukh Traders was fined Tk 4 lakh, Bhuiyan Trading Corporation fined Tk 4 lakh, Hasen Ali and Company fined Tk 6 lakh, and RF Bricks fined Tk 6 lakh.

The bricks lying around in fields have been destroyed by bulldozer, our local correspondent reports.


BIWTA’s Buriganga drive: 51 illegal establishments evicted

Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) has evicted 51 illegal establishments from the bank of Buriganga river in Dhaka’s Swari Ghat and Mitford Balur Ghat areas today.

During the drive, BIWTA officials recovered one acre of government land. BIWTA’s Executive Magistrate Mahbub Jamil led the drive while members of river police and Ansar assisted him.

Jamil said that the first phase of the eviction drive was conducted in January last year in this area but illegal encroachers occupied the land again.

BIWTA has been conducting a re-eviction drive for the last two days to free the Buriganga river bank.


3 decimal area of Sundarbans burnt in fire; probe body formed

About three decimals of forest area was burnt today in a fire that broke out in the patrol area under Dhansagar Station of Forest Department’s Chandpai Range in East Sundarbans Division.

Dhansagar Station Officer Faridul Islam confirmed the incident to our Bagerhat correspondent.

“The fire broke out around 12:30 pm. We came to know about the blaze from a member of Community Patrolling Group (CPG) who informed us after seeing smoke in the forest. Later, I went to the spot with CPG members, locals and forest rangers, and tried to bring the fire under control. We also informed fire service personnel. After they arrived, the fire was completely doused in a joint effort of four and a half hours. About three decimals of forest area have been burnt. However, no big tree was damaged in the blaze,” Faridul Islam said.

Contacted, Mohammad Belayet Hossain, divisional forest officer (DFO) of East Sundarbans Division told The Daily Star that a three-member committee has been formed to investigate the incident.

The committee, headed by assistant conservator of forest, will submit their report within seven days, the DFO also said.

Meanwhile, surveillance by forest rangers has been beefed up in the area, he added.


DoE fines LGED engineer, two others Tk 7 lakh for damaging hills in Bandarban

A senior engineer of the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), a construction firm and a sub-contractor were fined Tk 7 lakh by the Department of Environment (DoE) today, for razing hills in Bandarban’s Lama upazila.

The DoE during an investigation found that hills were being razed in the name of road development in Lama, reports our Bandarban correspondent quoting Mohammad Moazzem Hossain, director of DoE Chattogram region.

Based on the investigation — Md Jamal Uddin, senior engineer of Bandarban LGED, a construction firm named Md Younus and Brothers, and a sub-contractor named Bijoy Ais were fined during a hearing at the Chattogram DoE office today.


Environmentalists, farmers win Dutch court case over Shell Nigeria spills

Donald Rols, director of Milieudefensie, and Channa Samkalden, lawyer of Nigerian farmers and Milieudefensie, pose for a picture outside a Dutch appeals court ahead of the verdict in a case over oil major Shell’s responsibility for oil pollution in the Niger Delta, in the Hague, Netherlands, on January 29, 2021. Photo: Reuters/ Piroschka Van De Wouw

In a victory for environmentalists, a Dutch appeals court on Friday said that the Nigerian subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell was responsible for multiple oil pipeline leaks in the Niger Delta and ordered it to pay unspecified damages to farmers.

The case was brought in 2008 by four farmers and environmental group Friends of the Earth, seeking reparations for lost income from contaminated land and waterways in the region, the heart of Nigeria’s oil industry.

Friday’s decision went a step further than a 2013 ruling by a lower court, saying that Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary was responsible for multiple cases of oil pollution.

The appeals judge sided with the farmers in four of six spills covered by the lawsuit and postponed a verdict in the remaining cases, where the lower court had previously found Shell subsidiary SPDC responsible.

Although only SPDC was found to be directly responsible, the decision could open the door for more environmental cases against the oil major.

Shell said in a statement it continues to believe the spills were caused by sabotage.

“We are therefore disappointed that this court has made a different finding on the cause of these spills and in its finding that SPDC is liable.”

The appeals court said Shell had not proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that the oil spills had been caused by sabotage, rather than poor maintenance.

“This makes Shell Nigeria responsible for the damage caused by the leaks”, the court said.

Friends of the Earth said the ruling exceeded all expectations.

“This is fantastic news for the environment and people living in developing countries,” said Friends of the Earth’s Netherlands head, Donald Pols. It creates legal grounds to “take on the multinationals who do them harm.”

Shell settled a similar case in a British court in 2015, agreeing to pay 70 million euros ($85 million) to members of the Niger Delta Bodo community.

The Dutch appeals court did not hold Shell’s parent company Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell directly responsible, but ordered it to install a leak detection system on the Oruma pipeline, the source of several spills in the case.

The spills addressed by the court case occurred between 2004 and 2007, but pollution from leaking oil pipelines, which Shell maintains are the result of sabotage, remains a major problem in the Niger Delta.


Shut down all illegal brick kilns in Chattogram in 14 days: HC

The High Court today directed the authorities concerned of the government to shut down all illegal brick kilns still in operation in Chattogram within 14 working days to curb pollution.

The HC also asked the authorities to submit a report to it after complying with the directives by March 14.

The HC bench of Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice Mohi Uddin Shamim came up with the order and rule while hearing a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB) seeking necessary directives on this issue.

The court set March 14 for passing further order to this end.

The district administration and Department of Environment office of Chattogram today told the HC through their lawyers that they are shutting down illegal brick kilns in the district in line with its directive and they need more time to complete the task.

Lawyer Manzill Murshid appeared for the writ petitioner, Assistant Attorney General Ashik Rubayet represented the state while lawyer Syed Kamrul Islam stood for the Department of Environment during the hearing.

On December 14 last year, following the same petition the HC ordered the authorities to shut down illegal brick kilns in Chattogram in a week to curb pollution in the area and to submit a compliance report to it.

At the same time, the court issued a rule asking the government to explain why its inaction to shut down the illegal brick kilns should not be declared illegal.


DoE fines GPH oxygen plant and Standard Lube Oil Tk 5.8 lakh for pollution

Department of Environment (DoE) Chattogram region fined GPH Oxygen Plant and Standard Lube Oil Limited Tk 5.8 lakh for violating the environment conservation act and polluting environment.

The fine was imposed on them after a hearing at DoE’s Khulshi office today.

Mohammad Nurullah Nuri, acting director of DoE Chattogram region told The Daily Star GPH Oxygen Plant was fined Tk one lakh for not having DoE clearance certificate while Standard Lube Oil was fined Tk 4.8 lakh for releasing pollutants into the air directly.

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