POST TIME: 2 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Eco minister glares at wetland grabbers
Staff Reporter

Eco minister glares at wetland grabbers

Environmentalists yesterday expressed concern over a section of unscrupulous people flouting pollution norms by grabbing wetlands and constructing multistoried buildings on them. “There is a culture of impunity for environmental culprits in the country because multistoried buildings are not demolished even if they are built illegally by grabbing wetlands. But we have to come out from this bad culture. Nobody will dare to construct buildings by grabbing wetlands if one or two such buildings are pulled down,” environment and forests minister Anisul Islam Mahmud said.

He was speaking at a seminar on “Situation of Dhaka’s wetlands and future plan” at the National Press Club. The seminar was organised by the Bangladesh National Committee of IUCN on the occasion of World Climate Day yesterday.

The minister said there were many laws related to the environment and wetlands in the country. The government would do everything to prevent pollution and protect the wetlands by applying these laws strictly, he added.

Addressing the seminar as the chief guest, Mahmud said rivers and wetlands were closely related to the environment and economy, and therefore, the government was very concerned to prevent pollution to protect these natural bodies.

“We have to create awareness, and NGOs can play a vital role by participating in government programmes in this regard,” he added.

The government was planning to set up effluent treatment plants (ETPs) on the banks of rivers that were highly polluted, the minister said, adding that all the problems would be resolved soon.

“I didn’t know the term ‘sustainable development’ when I was a minister 34 years ago. We had to do everything for the development of the country’s economy at that time and we didn’t really think whether it would be harmful for the future or not,” the minister said.

According to Mahmud, Dhaka city itself has a population of around 1.70 crore, which is equal to the population of many countries in the world. “Many people want to procure a piece of land in the city, but where is the land? It has become tough to run the city and this reality should be considered,” he said.

“Nothing can be changed overnight,” he added.

Referring to the law on brick kilns, the minister said: “It is difficult to issue a licence for a brick kiln because of the stringent law passed by Parliament. As a result, all the kilns have become illegal. However, nobody is working by following the proper law in this regard.”

He urged the gathering to find out a solution that could be implemented by considering all aspects of the brick kiln law. Among others, IUCN chairperson Hasna Jasim Uddin Maudud, Centre for climate and natural resources studies executive director Dr M Mokhlesur Rahman, natural conservation management chairman Dr Abdur Rob Molla and IUCN vice-chair Dr Nilufar Banu also spoke at the seminar.