THE environment department’s fining Asian Paper Mills in Chattogram Tk 20 lakh, after a hearing on Monday, for discharging industrial waste into two canals that flow into the River Halda is a good piece of news. The paper mill, at Nandirhat of Hathazari in the district was accused of not running the effluent treatment plant for waste management and discharging the waste directly into the canals, polluting the environment. The department officials inspected the paper mill on May 25 and the upazila nirbahi officer on May 26 filed a complaint with the environment department. The water resources secretary, who also received complaints from local inhabitants when he visited Raujan, ordered steps for action against the paper mill. The department, in addition to fining the mill, also asked the authorities to mend the effluent treatment in a month, failing which the mill authorities could face a lawsuit. But, sadly, there are hundreds of such industrial units that have been polluting the environment not just in Chattogram but in all other districts where the environment department seems to have chosen to remain silent. It would be welcome if the environment department could show such efficiency in other cases of environment pollution.
The incident that led to the penalisation of the paper mill at hand might well have been goaded by the water resources secretary. There are ample reasons to believe this as there are hundreds of industrial units which have been polluting the environment, especially rivers, by way of discharging their full load of untreated chemical and toxic wastes all over the country. Piecemeal efforts by the environment department, or any agencies for that matter, would not be able to stop environment pollution unless all agencies in charge of looking after the environment start working in sync keeping to a comprehensive plan drawn up in consultation with all stakeholders. And environment pollution does not only mean the pollution of canals and rivers. Air, earth and the nature can be polluted too and the environment department should look into all such pollution. Environmental pollution across the country continues because of the government’s indifference to the issue. There is an Environment Policy and because of the government’s failure to enforce the policy, Bangladesh is reported to have lagged behind in the Global Environmental Performance Index. Bangladesh ranked in the 179th position among 180 countries in the Global Environmental Performance Index 2018 where health impact, air quality, water and sanitation, water resources, agriculture, forests, fisheries, biodiversity and habitat were taken into account as indicators.
With the population growing and a declining respect for the law, Bangladesh is fast becoming an example of environment pollution. To stem the tide of pollution, the authorities must bring to justice other environment polluters, especially aberrant industrial units, and carry out drives round the year.
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