BELA has adopted various means to create awareness about environmental laws and to activate responsible agencies in performing their legal duties. It was after a BELA-initiated case in 1997 that the Supreme Court of Bangladesh recognized the concept of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that enabled millions of voice-less people to access the formal justice system through representative civil society organisations (CSOs) and individual public-interested litigants.
PIL aimed to generate awareness amongst the common people and relevant actors for the development of a realistic regulatory framework and parochial environmental jurisprudence.
BELA has filed more than 350 PILs on environmental issues. The cases involve a wide range of issues including river pollution, industrial pollution, vehicular pollution, labor welfare, compensation for losses inflicted by development projects, encroachment and derogation of important wetlands, relocation of industries, prevention of hill cutting, conservation of forests, defending forest rights, fishermen’s rights & farmers rights amongst others.
BELA has a legal cell which renders legal assistance to individuals or communities affected by environmental problems. The legal cell is headed by a Coordinator. All applications for legal assistance can be sent at firstname.lastname@example.org. A response shall be sent to the applicant within 15 days from the date of receipt of an application for assistance.
On receipt of an application, BELA contacts the applicant for further information, documents and a meeting. After scrutiny of the documents, the BELA team conducts a field verification. Final decisions for filing applications or cases are taken by BELA only after field verification and scrutiny of documents. In applicable cases, BELA assists the aspirant litigants in obtaining documents by filing applications under the Right to Information Act (RTI).
BELA does not take up issues for legal assistance if it involves personal interest or is sought pursuant to personal enmity or rivalry. Issues that have no relevance or bearing on community interests are also not taken up. For details on the kinds of issues usually accepted by BELA for providing legal assistance, please refer to the list of cases under Activities (PIL).