Expressing dissatisfaction over activities of the Department of Environment (DoE), Bela Chief Executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan yesterday accused the government of not being sincere in its efforts to make environmental courts effective.
“The environmental courts have been set up with the condition that they have no shield and no sword. Indeed, these courts remain non-functional,” she said.
She was speaking as the chief guest at a seminar on “Application and reformation of environmental laws preventing pollution arising from industrial activities: a critical approach in case of textile industries in Gazipur district, Bangladesh”.
Law and human rights department of the University of Asia Pacific organised the seminar on the campus in the capital.
The government has set up only three environmental courts in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet, and operates 21 offices across the country to assist these courts under the Environment Court Act 2010.
Rizwana, chief of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association, said an individual cannot easily file a case with these courts.
“If anybody wants to file a case, he or she must go through at least four tiers of these courts. So, nobody wants to a file case,” she said. The government had been advised to include a technical expert on the judge's panel, but no such initiative was taken, she added.
Prof Jamilur Reza Choudhury, vice chancellor of the University of Asia Pacific, chaired the seminar.
Rizwana said the government must remain vigilant in ensuring proper implementation and use of effluent treatment plants by industries.
Prof Jamilur Reza, who is also an eminent urban planner, said if the DoE does not enforce people to follow its rules to protect the environment, the country will face the worst kind of disasters.
Jafar Siddique, director (Legal) of DoE, said they are taking action against responsible persons including some influential people despite their limitations.
Abdul Matin, secretary general of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, among others spoke.