No real cheer for climate | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 10, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 10, 2011

No real cheer for climate

Though the country is facing more and more environmental challenges every year, no major environmental programme has been mentioned in the proposed budget for fiscal year 2011-12.
In the last two fiscal years, the government took some programmes aiming to save the Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Dhaleshwari rivers in and around the capital from pollution. Finance Minister AMA Muhith in his budget speech yesterday said they failed to achieve the target of the programmes within the set time due to "technical difficulties" and therefore those will continue in this fiscal year.
In the proposed budget, no programme was announced to stop discharging excreta into the city's rivers and lakes.
The minister, however, said the government will reduce dependency on ground water and supply more surface water to city dwellers. That implies the government is going for the usual practice of treating industrial waste and excreta-mixed surface water for the city dwellers.
He talked about reducing air pollution but did not mention any initiative or allocate any fund for the purpose.
Some initiatives, he declared yesterday, like reducing duty and tax on the chemicals used in effluent treatment plant (ETP), making mandatory of using concrete construction materials and concrete mix in public construction and banning exports of bricks are undoubtedly praise worthy.
After taking office, the government took up a huge afforestation programme, a mega river dredging project of Tk 50,000 crore and construction work of the Ganges barrage demanded by environmentalists for a long time, Muhith said yesterday. Those projects will also continue.
The government will enact Solid Waste Management Rules, 2011, and the Hazardous Waste and Ship Breaking Waste Management Rules, 2011, and amend Bangladesh Environment Preservation (Amendment) Act, 2010 and Bangladesh Environment Court Act.
Total Tk 1,400 crore was allocated for Climate Change Trust Fund in last two budgets. Of the amount, Tk 719.61 crore has so far been utilised for 60 projects. For FY 2011-12, Tk 700 crore has been allocated for the fund, the minister said.
With the climate change fund, the government has set a target of making block gardens in 16,088 hectares of land and strip forests covering 3,530 kilometres of land. It also aims to distribute 34.33 lakh plants.
But the protection of the country's endangered wildlife and threatened biodiversity remains ignored in the proposed budget which only talks about amending the controversial Wildlife Protection Act, 2010.

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