THE World Environment Day 2017 was celebrated yesterday with pomp and glory in Bangladesh with the theme ‘connecting people to nature’. This year’s celebrations, as New Age reported on Monday, focussed on encouraging people to get outdoors and into nature and feel its beauty and importance in order to protect nature. But one should not forget the humiliating fact that Bangladesh ranked 169th among 178 countries in the Global Environmental Performance Index 2014 scoring only 25.61out of 100 when health impacts, air quality, water and sanitation, water resources, agriculture, forests, fisheries, biodiversity and habitat were taken into consideration as indicators for judgement. No doubt, there is an environment policy in the country. However, due to the failure of the incumbent to enforce the policy, the country lagged behind in the Global Environmental Performance Index.
Approximately 1,00,000 old and ramshackle motorised vehicles are plying the streets of the capital polluting the environment; with systematic destruction, the forests have shrunk to phantom sizes; despite a ban, use of firewood in brickfields is rampant; misuse of pesticides is causing disappearance of many varieties of smaller fishes; river spaces have been occupied or are drying up; wetlands have been usurped by a section of greedy construction firms; even the lakes, parks and open spaces in the city have been legally or illegally occupied. Polythene bags, a major pollutant, are back. Thus, there is hardly any aspect of the ecology that remains unaffected by all-pervasive pollution. Although the country cannot yet be called an industrialised one, it has become a matter of utmost concern that many industrial units in the country keep releasing toxic gases and chemicals into the environment to the peril of human health, crops and aquatic resources. What is ironical is, while the owners of these industrial units contribute significantly to the growth of the economy and generation of employment opportunities, they prefer to remain indifferent to the vital issue of environment pollution and the resulting damage to eco-system. In short, full-blast pollution is going on due to the absence of adequate law enforcement and proper governance by the authorities. In our country the main cause of pollution is not industrial activity but defiance of the law by the high and the mighty and corruption almost at all levels. According to an estimate published recently, 37.5 per cent of industrial units do not have waste management facilities and 62 per cent do not recycle waste. Authorities must sustain a drive to reclaim the water bodies and maintain the drainage network so that after moderate-to-heavy rainfall the rainwater could be effectively flushed out of roads and neighbourhoods in cities.
It is because of ubiquitous pollution and laxity in law enforcement, any effort can hardly touch the fringe of the problem. With growing population and declining respect for the law, the country is fast becoming the environmentalist’s nightmare. To stem the tide of destruction the authorities must bring to book the polluters of environment, alongside monitoring the air quality.
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