Large-scale commercial poultry farms posing health hazard
Six large unauthorized commercial poultry farms are posing hazards to public health and agriculture in Madhabpur upazila of Habiganj violating a High Court order.
Although there is no provision for setting up poultry farms in populated areas without compliance with the law, all those commercial farms have been set up in the vicinity of houses, educational institutions and mosques in the villages flouting the law.
Ibadur Rahman Bilal, a local Awami League member from Kamalpur village, said that the illegally established poultry farms were emanating unbearable stench making the villages inhabitable. Apart from this, the roads in the area have become battered due to plying of heavy vehicles carrying feed and other things to and from the farms.
The stench coming from those farms is making the locals fall sick. Due to the stench of the farm, the devout Muslims of the area are also having difficulty going to the mosque to offer prayer, he also said.
The owner of the poultry farm is so influential that the people of the area do not dare to raise voices against him. Allegations are there that the farm owner harassed those who came forward to register protest against him, he added.
On a recent visit to the area, this correspondent found that several layer and broiler chicken farms have been set up in Kamalpur, Kalikapur, Harinkhola and Gopinathpur villages. Due to the dumping of litter and other wastes of the poultry farms, the farmers could not cultivate boro this season and robi crops. The people living next to the farm have been the worst affected.
The locals said, "We cannot breathe freely. As the owner of the farm is influential, no one dares to speak against him. It will not be possible for us to live in this area if the farms are not closed or any alternative measures are taken."
Anisur Rahman Adil, the founding principal of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) Alim Madrasa in Kamalpur, said that Quality Feed started several mega poultry farms in Kamalpur village without obtaining clearance from the Department of Environment and Livestock Department.
In the public interest, Anisur Rahman Adil filed a writ petition with the High Court on April 1 last year challenging the legality of setting up the farms in a populous area. Following the hearing, the HC bench of Justice MdMojibur Rahman Mia and Justice Md Kamrul Hossain Mollah issued status quo on the activities of the six poultry farms.
But even after six months, no steps have been taken to implement the HC order, he added.
Despite the recent HC order on Fariha Layer Farm and Harinkhola Poultry Farm, new electricity connections were given to the farms in clear violation of the court order, he also said.
Md Manjurul Islam, a security guard of Poultry Farm No 6 of the company located in Harinkhola village, said that the broiler farm started here on September 18 and electricity connection was also provided on September 17. There are over 36 thousand chicks here.
Farhadul Islam, the land owner of Farm No 6 in the same village, said that he did not know how the farm started its operation after the order of the High Court, but the company relaunched its operation on September 18.
Gedu Mia, a farmer who owns land in Gopinathpur village, said that the people of the company harassed them with assault cases whenever they talked about the problems. "The land adjacent to the farm cannot be cultivated because of the stench and the bodies of rotten chickens dumped on it; our land is ruined," he added.
Abdur Rashid, deputy director of Quality Integrated Agro Limited (QIAL), said, "The status quo was issued on one of the poultry farms shed next to the madrasa and we have shut it in compliance with the HC order."
"On the other hand, we are running the company commercially with all kinds of approval," he added.
Contacted, Madhabpur Upazila Livestock Officer Dr Md Abdus Sattar Beg admitted that QIAL has been running large-scale farms in the villages without registration.
Asked how QIAL could continue their business for so long without registration, he said that he was unable to answer the question as he was posted in the upazila only recently.
Mizanur Rahman, deputy director of Department of Environment (DoE) in Habiganj, said Emran Hossain, the director of DoE in Sylhet, sent a letter to know the details about Quality Integrated Agro Limited (QIAL).
"We visited the area and saw that only the poultry shed next to the madrasa was closed," he said.