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Jilanja Mouja-Attempted Conversion of Reserve Forests for Housing of Public Officials, Bangladesh

Illegal conversions of reserve forests plots for the housing of government officials are successfully contested by civil society and the court


The conflict was about an initiative to settle and register 20.638 hectars of hill and forest land in Jilanja mouja (land administrative unit), Cox’s Bazar District in favour of identified public officials under a Project titled Cox's Bazar Zilla Collector Karmakarta/Karmachari Shomonnoy Parishad (Cox’s Bazar District Collector Officials/Employees Cooperative Council).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Jilanja Mouja-Attempted Conversion of Reserve Forests for Housing of Public Officials, Bangladesh
State or province:N/A
Location of conflict:Jilanja Mouja (land administrative unit) of Cox`s Bazar District
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Project area:20,638
Level of Investment:Not Applicable
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:2,289,990
Start of the conflict:24/10/2006
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Land; Ministry of Environment and Forest; Ministry of Housing and Public Works; Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism; Chairman, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation; Divisional Commissioner, Chittagong; Director General, Department of Environment; Deputy Commissioner, Cox’s Bazar district; Superintendent of Police, Cox’s Bazar district; Divisional Forest Officer, Cox’s Bazar South Forest Department; Upazilla Nirbahi Officer, Cox’s Bazar; Director, Department of Environment (Chittagong Division).
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)
Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST)
Youth Environment Society
The Director, Department of Environment, Chittagong.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Other Environmental impactsThe denuded hill poses great risk of landslides during monsoon
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Land demarcation
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Development of alternatives:The legality of the Project was challenged by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) in Writ Petition No. 11210 of 2006. The grounds for the legal case were illegal cutting of hills and clearing of forests in the protected area and in ecologically critical area of Jilalja mouja.
Upon final hearing, the Hon’ble Court was pleased to deliver judgement on 08 June, 2011 declaring the Project illegal and directing the responsible public agencies to i) evict all squatters from the subject land; ii) not to allot any part of the land in question to any person/body, and iii) refrain from settling any land in the Protected Forest Area or Environmentally Critical Area, as declared in the gazette notifications dated 13 July 1935 and 19 April 1999, in favour of any person or organization. The Court also directed not to allow any person/body to flatten any part of any hill in the subject area or to indulge upon any act of deforestation. The Review Petition of Deputy Commissioner of Cox's Bazar has also been dismissed by the Appellate Division on 19 March, 2017.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Despite Judgment and directions of the Hon’ble High Court, the agencies endorsing the Project have not evicted the squatters and have not prevented derogatory acts to the said Hill and the Protected Forests. Contrarily, a total of not less than 60 structures have been built on the said Hill with a 200 feet street ahead of these structures. A contempt petition has been filed on 12 February, 2014 and the Hon’ble High Court issued a show cause on 4 March, 2014. Even after these, the interested government agencies are continuing to erase the Hill and the Forest against which a further application for an order to direct appearance of the contemners in person has been filed.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Articles 21, 31 and 32 of the Constitution of the Peoples' Republic of Bangladesh;
[click to view]

the Building Construction Act, 1952 and the 1987 amendments thereof
[click to view]

the Environment Conservation Act, 1995 and the 1997 Rules made thereunder
[click to view]

the Gazette Notifications dated 11 June, 1935, 7 March, 1995 and 19 April, 1999
[click to view]

the Forest Act, 1927
[click to view]

the Building Construction Rules, 1996
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

News article on the case (ii)
[click to view]

News article on the case (i)
[click to view]

Other documents

Judgment Jilanja Mouza, Cox's Bazar
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), [email protected]
Last update14/01/2019
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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