'Polluting industries must be closed down'
Environmentalists have demanded that the government take stricter action against those who are polluting the environment, claiming the influential position held by some polluters meant they were enjoying impunity.
The demand was made at seminar jointly organized by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and the Department of Environment (DoE) at the DoE auditorium on Saturday. The seminar was arranged to commemorate World Environment Day on June 5.
Addressing the seminar, BAPA Vice President Khandaker Bazlul Haque said: “A lack of government initiatives is responsible for the environmental damage in the country. We are facing a question of survival. The authorities must break the silence over polluters.
“A minority is damaging the environment. Alhough they are small in number, their powerful positions make them difficult to reach,” he added, urging Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to intervene in the matter.
BAPA General Secretary Abdul Matin said: “The authorities are being lethargic in taking action against polluters because some of them are influential industrialists. Those who are destroying the forests are more powerful than the Department of Forests.
“Rivers are being polluted to serve the purposes of industrialists. Soil is losing fertility as the groundwater is contaminated,” he added.
Columnist Syed Abul Maksud said there is not even a single inch of land in the country that is not polluted, and fines were insufficient to stop the pollution. “Polluting industries must be closed down.”
He also claimed that public representatives were not properly conducting their duties at both the local and national levels.
“A number of brick kiln owners are seen practicing politics in upazila parishads and in parliament, despite the industry being heavily criticized for pollution emissions,” the columnist said, urging the people to be aware and “wake up” the government.
DoE Director General Dr AKM Rafique Ahammed: “Bangladesh is one of the world’s most polluted countries. Pollution both creates health risks and also damages our assets.
“We have to ensure development while keeping the environment protected. Coordinating between development and the environment is the main task at the moment,” he added.
Dr Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, chairman of the department of environmental science at Stamford International University, presented the key note paper at the seminar.
“Dhaka is surrounded by brick kilns, which are causing the majority of pollution in the capital,” he said.