April 24, 2024, 9:16 am

HC calls for removal of markets, stalls from highways

  • Update Time : Tuesday, January 16, 2024
  • 33 Time View
Photo: Collected

The road transport secretary, the BRTA, and the chief of the Highway Police have been ordered to respond to its rule on the issue within four weeks

Desk Report:

The High Court has questioned the government’s efforts and commitment to removing banned three-wheelers from roads, and evicting stalls and structures near highways to ensure public safety.

The bench of Justice Mustafa Zaman Islam and Justice Md Atabullah issued a rule on Tuesday, asking why the government’s ‘inaction’ to address these matters should not be deemed illegal.

Supreme Court Advocate SM Badrul Islam filed a writ petition in the public interest over the matter.

“People’s suffering has reached its peak as ongoing construction and renovation works are not completed on time due to various constructions on the highways across the country,” said Badrul, who argued in support of the petition at the hearing.

The secretary of the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges, the BRTA and the chief of Highway Police have been asked to respond to the rule within four weeks, he added.

Deputy Attorney General Tushar Kanti Roy, and assistant attorneys general Salim Azad and Anis ul Mawa represented the state.

According to the Highways Act, 2021, there is no scope for construction of any kind of structure, including market stalls, on highways or within the control line. But numerous marketplaces have cropped up on the sides of highways across the country in defiance of these restrictions.

Leases for markets are approved on the condition that they are located 200-300 feet away from the highway. But in reality, these markets gradually expand closer to the road.

In some locations, even though the markets are leased a certain distance from the highway, they still encroach across the line reserved for the highway.

According to information from the Highway Police, permanent and temporary market stalls illegally built next to various highways across the country number over 2,500.

Traffic congestion in these areas is also severe due to many three-wheelers acting as freight vehicles carrying goods to and from these markets. Sometimes fatal accidents occur in these areas.

The Highways Act 2021 specifies the extent of the control line of the highway. It says that land extending 10 metres either side of the highway, or the line determined by the government through gazette notification will be the ‘control line’.

A sub-section on restrictions on the use of highways states that no part of the highway shall be used for construction of any infrastructure, bazaar or commercial enterprise within the reserve line of the highway without the approval of the government.

The High Court has issued several directives to halt the movement of three-wheelers on the highway, but they have yet to be removed. These vehicles are often blamed for causing highway accidents.

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