Industries cause water scarcity in 5 villages, Chittagong district, Bangladesh

No water to drink due to industrial withdrawal of ground water


The 5 No. Habilashdweep Union (lowest administrative tier) is located in 10 km north-west of Potia Upazilla (administrative union under district) under Chittagong district. With five villages namely, Charkanai, Hulaine, Pantchuria and Habilashdweep, the Union (lowest administrative unit) has a total population of 30,000 villagers. These villagers were served with 350 tubewells set up for supply of potable water in the 90's by the Directorate of Public Health Engineering Department (DPHE) under the local government ministry.

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Basic Data
NameIndustries cause water scarcity in 5 villages, Chittagong district, Bangladesh
ProvinceNot Applicable
SitePotiya Upazilla, Chittagong district
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water access rights and entitlements
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsA survey conducted by the villagers identified the legal violations of the following 8 industries: 1. Banaful and Co. (Food Products); Category “Orange B”, item 69 of Rule 7.2, Schedule 1 (c) of the ECR; 2. Banaful Mineral Water; Category “Orange B”, item 15 of Rule 7.2, Schedule 1 (c); 3. Ambia Dyeing and Knitting Mills; Category “Red”, item 14 of Rule 7.2, Schedule 1 (d); 4. Ambia Paper Mills; Category “Red”, item 11 of Rule 7.2, Schedule 1 (d); 5. Mostofa Paper Products; Category “Red”, item 11 of Rule 7.2, Schedule 1 (d); 6. Anwara Paper Mills; Category “Red”, item 11 of Rule 7.2, Schedule 1 (d); The above 6 (six) industries have no ECC, ETP, and were extracting ground water; 7. Hakkani Paper and Pulps; Category “Red”, item 11 of Rule 7.2, Schedule 1 (d); 8. Shah Amanat Dyeing and Knitting; Category “Red”, item 14 of Rule 7.2, Schedule 1 (d); The above 2 (two) industries have ECC but were not operating the ETPs and were withdrawing groundwater.
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population30,000
Start Date03/11/2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesHakkani Paper and Pulps from Bangladesh
Banaful Mineral Water
Banaful and Co. (Food Products) from Bangladesh
Anwara Paper Mills from Bangladesh
Shah Amanat Dyeing and Knitting Industries Ltd. from Bangladesh
Mostofa Paper Products from Bangladesh
Ambia Dyeing and Knitting Mills from Bangladesh
Ambia Paper Mills from Bangladesh
Relevant government actorsSecretaries, Ministry of Land, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Water Resources, Health, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, Local Governance, Rural Development and Co-operative; Chairman, National River Protection Commission; Director General, Department of Environment (DoE); Director General, Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB); Chief Engineer, Department of Public Health and Engineering; Deputy Commissioner, Chittagong; Director, Department of Environment (DoE), Chittagong Division; Chairman, Potia Upazilla; Upazilla Nirbahi Officer, Potia Upazilla; Assistant Commissioner (Land), Office of the Assistant Commissioner, Potia Upazilla; Chairman, 5 No. Habilashdweep Union Parishad, Potia; Assistant Engineer, Department of Public Health and Engineering, Potia and Boalkhali Upazilla, Chittagong.
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersBangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Informal workers
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Waste overflow
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Infectious diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesOn behalf of the local people, a Writ Petition No. 440 of 2014 has been filed seeking for the followings-

a) A show cause notice upon the respondents to explain as to why (i) the hazardous and polluting operation of the industries in the 5 (five) villages of 5 No. Habilashdweep Union of Potia upazilla shall not be declared unlawful, without lawful authority and against public interest; (ii) they shall not be directed to arrange for supply of potable and household water for the villlagers by declaring the five villages as water stress areas; and (iii) in view of the grievances and allegations of the local people, they shall not be directed to reconsider environmental clearances given in favour of some industries.

Meanwhile, local people have also arranged public hearing in which all stakeholders participated and expressed their perspectives on possible solutions. The proceedings of the public hearing has been produced before the Court which was helpful in nullifying the claim that the water scarcity has been addressed by setting up of new tube wells.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.In Writ Petition No. 440 of 2014, the High Court has passed interim order on ...barring withdrawal of groundwater by the industries and operation of the industries without ECC and ETPs. The case is now being heard and meanwhile two industries have filed applications seeking permission for closure of their industries. The government is vehemently opposing the declaration of 'water stress area' as it is considered a management failure. The Department of Environment is also trying to save few industries by granting hem ECC and submitting favourable reports on their current compliance status. Since the case is being fought aggressively by the government agencies and the industries, no opinion can be formed till final decision comes from the judiciary. The applications for closure may just be a ploy to avoid legal sanctions, if ultimately, the case is decided in favour of the petitioner.
Sources and Materials

The State Acquisition and Tenancy Act, 1950
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The Ground Water Management Ordinance, 1985
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The National River Protection Commission Act, 2013
[click to view]

The Bangladesh Water Development Board Act, 2000
[click to view]

The Environment Conservation Rules, 1997
[click to view]

The Land Management Manual, 1990
[click to view]

Other applicable laws and policies.
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The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995
[click to view]

The Bangladesh Water Act, 2013
[click to view]

Articles 18A, 31, 32 and 42 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
[click to view]


Source of information: Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)
[click to view]

Media Links

Video of Public Hearing on the Problem
[click to view]

Other Documents

Picture of Potia
[click to view]

Picture of Potia
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Picture of Potia
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Order of Potia-Habilash Deep WP 440 of 2015
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorSyeda Rizwana Hasan, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), [email protected]
Last update27/06/2018