Tuesday, September 25, 2018

DoE says 190 factories harming the Sundarbans, 24 ‘dangerously close’

  • Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2018-04-05 22:57:33 BdST

The Department of Environment or DoE has marked 190 commercial and industrial plants operating within 10 kilometres of the Sundarbans.

It has flagged ‘red’ 24 of these establishments as those are dangerously close to the world heritage site and polluting the soil, water and air of the world’s largest mangrove forest.

The levels of harms caused by the other organisations are also increasing heavily, the DoE says in a report it made following a High Court order.

According to the report, 92 of the 190 factories are situated in Khulna, 78 in Bagerhat and 20 in Satkhira. Out of these, 36 are closed now.

The Sundarbans is known for its wide range of fauna, including 260 bird species, the Royal Bengal Tiger and other threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile and the Indian python, according to the UNESCO.

The Sundarbans is known for its wide range of fauna, including 260 bird species, the Royal Bengal Tiger and other threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile and the Indian python, according to the UNESCO.

After hearing a writ petition, the High Court on Aug 24 last year issued an injunction on approval for factories within 10 kilometres of the Sundarbans, a UNESCO Heritage Site.

It had also asked the DoE to submit a report on the plants in these areas.

The bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal heard the petition.

It also issued a rule asking the authorities why the new factories will not be removed, and the order for their approvals will not be deemed illegal under a 1999 government order that banned factories within 10km.

Protesters take out a procession in Dhaka against a power plant near the Sundarbans. File Photo

Protesters take out a procession in Dhaka against a power plant near the Sundarbans. File Photo

Deputy Attorney General Motaher Hossain Saju presented the report to the court on Thursday after the DoE director general had submitted it.

Mohammad Zakir Hossain stood for the petitioner, Sheikh Faridul Islam, chairman of Save the Sundarbans Foundation.

The deputy attorney general said the report would be presented at the hearing of the rule on May 9.

Speaking about the report, petitioner Zakir told bdnews24.com, “The 24 industrial organisations flagged red cannot remain within 10 kilometres of the Sundarbans in any way".

He said the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act prohibits the existence of such structures within 10 kilometres of Ecologically Critical Areas or ECAs like the Sundarbans.

“The other factories’ impact on this area is increasing. The hearing on whether the court should order these factories to relocate will be held on May 9,” he said.

A spotted deer at Kalagachhia in the Sundarbans.

A spotted deer at Kalagachhia in the Sundarbans.

Deputy Attorney General Motaher said the factories marked ‘red’ are harmful to the environment in general.   

“But expert opinions will be needed for the hearing of the rule to find out how harmful these factories are,” he added.