Environmental degradation is inexcusable!

Marksman | Published: September 18, 2018 21:31:39 | Updated: September 19, 2018 20:53:12


We cannot rest on the laurels of incremental GDP growth rates and the beckoning of an upper middle income country status. On the contrary, we are obliged to step up our efforts to preserve, consolidate, sustain and enhance aggregative gains to permeate all strata of society.

Improving the citizen's quality of life is the primary goal of any development undertaking of a government. Development, and its next higher stage -- progress -- do no admit of environmental degradation. In other words,  development projects or industrial manufacturing processes shouldn't  preoccupy  themselves entirely  with  creation  of wealth, adding  to  employment opportunities  and filling  foreign exchange coffers. Of course  such   objectives are important  in  their  own right; but  because  in their blind pursuit,  we  tend  to   be    negligent of the attendant   environmental  concerns, we are having to bear the cost  of the slack  in this regard. In fact, it is no overstatement to say that we are    faced with  double jeopardy: A severe  environmental degradation and  cutting at the roots of a  sustained incremental  development  process.

Let's not forget that  deterioration  of an environment is  a  deep-acting process, and with  its deleterious  effects setting in,  the  damage  done  might be difficult  to repair; but  not an impossible task to redeem.  Moreover, if the lesson has been learnt from the folly of playing around with environment, a window will have opened on the "opportunities for clean and resilient growth in urban Bangladesh", as the World Bank's   thematic    report released in Dhaka on Sunday last hinted at.

That Bangladesh was denied  equivalent of 3.4 per cent of its  GDP growth   through  environmental degradation  in 2015  bespeaks of a huge sense of loss we have  endured  year after year.

Another   alarming   statistic  is ,'Twenty eight per cent of  all  deaths  were  from diseases caused by  pollution  across the country ,compared  to  the global average of 16 percent.'

Textile and leather sectors, significant drivers of the national economy, have on their flip-side been disgorging   waste of huge amounts to countenance.

Bangladesh's regime for environmental protection is less strict than most other countries in Asia, and along with low fines, it is only one notch ahead of Vietnam, quips the WB report. As if that was not enough, the  weak  institutional  capacities of the enforcement agencies -- such as  Department of Environment(DoE) and insufficient  engagement  of other key players -- are largely responsible  for the unabated environmental pollution  in Bangladesh, an observation by the World Bank  that finds  resonance  with  local experts.

The World Bank's diagnostic observation is quite apt: "Sustained unplanned urbanization, infilling and delinking of perennial wetlands and rivers, and shrinking of many link canals across Dhaka have exacerbated urban flooding and contributed to various recurring environmental problems." 

These are all known facts    having been hammered away from time to time   on the domestic circuit but actions from those in charge have been pathologically lacking. So we have others reminding us what to do from time to time with the advantage of a world view.      

Maybe, the bottom line should nudge us into action: "Urbanization and industrial growth have come with high environmental costs that are increasingly harming the country's (Bangladesh's) prospects for continued strong economic progress."                                        

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