Thursday, February 21, 2019 | ePaper

Save the Sundarbans, nature's revenge would bitter

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SHOWING utter disregard to nature's conservation, by now, as many as 200 industrial units within 10km of the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, have been approved by the government. According to newspaper reports, plans for setting up oil refinery, cement factories, ship-building plants and even LPG plants and Brick Klins all are in the list.
What is highly disturbing is that, the government is deliberately violating environmental laws. Bangladesh had declared the 10-kilometre periphery of the mangrove forest as the ECA (Ecologically Critical Area) in 1999 - a couple of years after the UNESCO listed it as a natural world heritage site. As per Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995 (amended in 2010), no one is allowed to set up any factory in the ECA.
So question has been raised, if the law was intended to violate it what was the need to pass it in the first place? The process to pollute the Sundarbans has already begun with 154 industrial units being in operation.
The government should immediately relocate all industrial units from the ecologically critical area, as it's a  demand of the people. With less than 7 per cent forest reserves left in the country, we cannot afford to helplessly watch the destruction of our only remaining major forest.
The Sundarbans already has a fragile ecosystem as freshwater flow into the forest has been drastically reduced, resulting in substantial increases in siltation and salinity that are threatening the overall balance of the ecosystem.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee should recognise the threat on the Sundarbans and officially enlist it into the 'list of World Heritage sites in danger'. It becomes necessary to take concrete and deliberate action to ensure the future protection of the Sundarbans from such damage from commercial activities.
We should take lessons from the environmental disasters occurring in the country in the recent days. No one can forget that nature's revenge on its destruction is not sweet.

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