BLAST vs. Bangladesh and others [‘Illegal Construction of High Rise’ Case]

Writ Petition No. 258 of 2004

High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh

BLAST filed a writ petition challenging the construction of a large number of high rise buildings in Dhaka City in contravention of constitutional provisions and environmental safety laws, impleading the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Ministry of Housing and Public Works, the Directorate of Environment, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK), the Dhaka Electricity Supply Authority (DESA), Water and Sewerage Supply Authority (WASA), the Dhaka City Corporation, the Managing Director of Titas Gas and Transmission and Distribution Co. Ltd. and thirteen real estate developers.

Arguments: The petitioners argued that the public bodies were acting in contravention of their statutory obligations by allowing construction of high rise buildings, both residential and commercial, without due deference to electricity, drainage, sewerage and water supply facilities, making the environment of Dhaka more hazardous and exposing the inhabitants to environmental degradation. The allotments were often made without environmental clearance certificates for industrial units. Residential buildings often had no playgrounds or light and air access, minimum distances between two buildings were not maintained, and allocation was made obstructing free flood flow zones. Corruption by public bodies at the behest of vested interests was argued to be in violation of the requirements and stipulations of the Environment Preservation Act, 1995 and Rules 1997; the Town Improvement Act, 1952 and Articles 18, 31 and 32 of the Constitution. The petitioners filed a supplementary affidavit following the collapse of the Spectrum Sweater Building detailing reports of corruption in the construction of buildings.

Order: The High Court Division issued a Rule Nisi on 28.01.2001 to show cause as to why a direction should not be issued upon the respondents to take appropriate legal action and to perform their statutory duties and functions under the Environment Conservation Act and Rules and upon the developers to take appropriate measures to prevent violation of the laws and Constitution.

Laws Cited: Constitution, Articles 18, 31 and 32; Environment Preservation Act, 1995 and Rules 1997; Town Improvement Act, 1952

Status: Pending hearing


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