Govt slammed for allowing hazardous industries near Sunderbans

Staff Correspondent | Updated at 01:19am on April 12, 2018

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National Committee to Protect Sunderban, Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan and some other organisations hold a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital on Wednesday. — New Age photo

Greens on Wednesday slammed the government for allowing setting up of hazardous industries in the Sunderbans’ close proximity by amending the Environment Act 1995.
They said that in the Environment Act 1995, hazardous industries were placed in the ‘Red’ category but the amendment brought to the law on December 24, 2017 placed the ‘Red category’ industries in the ‘Green’ category to allow setting up of the industries in the Sunderbans’ close proximity without any assessment whether or not they would be hazardous for the mangrove forest.
The law requires environmental impact assessment before letting ‘Red’ category industries establishment anywhere in Bangladesh.
But ‘Green’ category industries require no environmental impact assessment.
The National Committee for Saving the Sunderbans, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolan and 57 other organizations expressed serious concern over the whole issue at the news
conference they jointly called at the auditorium of Dhaka Reporters Unity at Segunbagicha in the capital.
They said that the government amended the law with the mala fide intention of allowing setting up of liquefied petroleum gas and petro-chemical terminal in the Sunderbans’ close vicinity.
In her keynote paper, NCSS convener and human rights lawyer Sultana Kamal called it unfortunate that ignoring widespread criticism the government allowed setting up the Rampal Coal-Fired Power Plant and 190 other industries, 24 of them of the ‘Red’ category inside the buffer zone of the Sunderbans .
Recalling 10 earth shaking industrial disasters of the last 50 years, Sultana warned that setting up LPG factory and petro-chemical terminal inside the Sunderbans’ buffer zone could jeopardize environmental safety of the mangrove forest.
Sultana described amendment of the Environ Act without any discussion in Parliament as ‘undemocratic and violation of the law’.
BAPA general secretary Mohammad Abdul Matin demanded to know why the government kept silent over the last eight months about 13 scientific documents given to it by the National Committee for Saving the Sunderbans
explaining the hazards to be posed after commissioning of the Rampal Power Plant.
He said no government representative could call ‘our documents’ unscientific.
Moderated by BAPA joint secretary Sharif Jamil, Save the Sunderbans
Foundation chairman Sheikh Faridul Islam also spoke.