Saying that Bangladesh will survive if the Sundarbans survives, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has called for effective implementation of constitutional and legal obligations, especially environmental laws, for the protection of this invaluable source of biodiversity.
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman came up with the call yesterday in a press release, marking World Environment Day, being observed worldwide today.
He expressed deep concern as according to the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) 2018, Bangladesh ranks 179th out of 180 countries.
"As biodiversity is declining due to lack of proper implementation of the existing legal framework for environmental protection in Bangladesh, environmental pollution is increasing alarmingly," he said.
Biodiversity in Bangladesh is at high risk and grabbing of forest and waterbodies have been increasing due to lack of good governance in environmental protection and management, existing institutional weakness, abuse of power, poor supervision, corruption in the institutions concerned and political influence, said TIB.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, "We must ensure proper implementation of environmental laws to protect the world heritage, the Sundarbans, and the biodiversity that protects the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Bangladesh by closing down all industries and factories already established and under construction there and other environmentally critical areas."
According to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, a total of 4,16,256 acres of forest land has been destroyed in the country since 1989, of which 1,58,031 hectares have been allotted to various government and non-government organisations and 2,68,256 acres of forest land has been grabbed.
Due to increasing and uncontrolled deforestation, 39 species of wildlife have already become extinct in Bangladesh and about 30 more species, including the Bengal Tiger in the Sundarbans, are in critical condition -- a threat to the forest-centered life cycle and ecosystem.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman said, "Ignoring national and international advice and protests, the Sundarbans has been permanently endangered by setting up various industrial establishments, including coal-based power plants, in the vicinity of the world heritage."
But just as the Sundarbans is a source of life and nature, it has also protected the lives and livelihoods of countless people on the coast from cyclone Roanu, Fani and the recent Amphan.