Thursday, November 23, 2017

PM Hasina vows to protect Sundarbans as world heritage site

  • Senior Correspondent,
    Published: 2017-06-04 17:05:56 BdST


The government is not undertaking any project that will harm the Sundarbans and will protect the world heritage site, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said.

The prime minister spoke on the matter at the inauguration of ‘World Environment Day and Environment Fair 2017 and National Tree Planting Project and Tree Planting Day 2017’ on Sunday at the Bangabandhu International Convention Centre.

“We put a particular focus on ensuring that the Sundarbans comes to no harm when developing our projects,” she said.

Many environmentalists and leftist groups have protested the Awami League government’s decision to build a coal-based power plant in Rampal, 14 kilometres from the Sundarbans.

The government has repeatedly stated the power plant would not harm the Sundarbans in any way.

The Sundarbans were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 under an Awami League government led by Hasina.

“We have continued to protect the Sundarbans ever since,” Hasina said.

Bangladesh has been saved by the Sundarbans, the prime minister said. The government is making plans to grow the mangrove forest through artificial means.

The Awami League government has been able to ensure a 17 percent increase in the forest area in Bangladesh and has targeted a 25 percent increase, she said.

A balance of environmental protection and socially conscious forestry has been developed by the government, Hasina said. She also proposed the development of ‘smart patrolling’ to protect the region. A number of steps are also being taken to ensure those who live off the Sundarbans can find alternative employment, she added.

“And most essential is the development of a ‘green seawall’ to fend off hurricanes and floods.”

The prime minister also mentioned the trust fund she had set up to fight climate change. Thus far, Tk 31 billion has been allocated for the fund, she said.

Hasina did, however, express her disappointment that many developing countries had not contributed to the fund.

“Though we received many promises, very little financial support was given,” she said. “But what we have received, we put to good use.”

“Bangladesh has shown the world how to begin work on your own without depending on others and we are being recognised for it,” the prime minister said.