The government has decided to rename the "Ministry of Environment and Forests" as the "Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change".
A proposal to rename the ministry was approved in the fourth meeting of the National Committee on Environment at the Prime Minister’s Office in Dhaka today.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, PM's press secretary Ihsanul Karim said the meeting also approved the draft of the National Environment Policy-2017 and the Country Investment Plan (CIP) on environment, forests and climate change.
The national committee on environment also adopted a proposal in principle to allow environment friendly industries in the ecological critical areas in Mongla and Sundarbans areas, the press secretary said.
Addressing the meeting, the prime minister, also the chairperson of the national committee on environment, underscored the need for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through planned development protecting the cultivable land, forests and water bodies.
She said green afforestation has to be expanded in the coastal and northern region of the country to protect environment.
Sheikh Hasina particularly asked the authorities concerned to intensify efforts to keep the four surrounding rivers of the capital free from pollution.
“The rivers will die if they are not freed from waste and pollution,” she said.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Environment and Forests Minister Anwar Hossain Monju, Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Land Minister Shamsur Rahman Sharif, Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Food Minister Qumrul Islam, PM's Adviser Tawfique-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Dhaka South City Corporation Mayor Sayeed Khokon, and concerned secretaries were present. Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Ishtiaque Ahmed made a presentation on the activities and future action plan of the ministry.
The prime minister put emphasis on ensuring ETPs and STPs in the industries alongside improvement of the sewerage system. Environment is one of the prerequisite for sustainable development, she said adding that Bangladesh is not responsible for climate change, but it is one of the worst victims.
Referring to the successful implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), she said that the country also needs to show the same success in achieving the SDGs.
The prime minister also renewed her directives to keep water bodies in implementing housing and industrial projects for environment protection as well as facing any disaster like fire incident.
Regarding the recent trend of excessive rain in the country the prime minister said though people had to suffer a lot due to the heavy rain, this also helped free the rivers from pollution, reduce salinity and recharge the underground water level.
She also alleged that the canals and lakes in the city were devoured in various times except the tenure of the Awami League which is responsible for the water logging.
Terming the Sundarbans as a gift from Almighty Allah, she said her government has taken many steps for protection of the forests which has created employment opportunities for local people who lived on illegal timber collection and wood cutting.
She said that Bangladesh is one of the first among least developed countries to form the Climate Change Trust Fund without relying on others to face the adverse impacts of climate change.
Highlighting various steps taken by her government for the protection of environment, Sheikh Hasina said after assuming office in 1996, her government took initiatives to protect the environment and water bodies while provision has also been kept in the 15th amendment to the constitution for protection of the environment.
Besides, the Environment Court Act was enacted in 2010. Recalling the contributions of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for protection of the environment, she said that Bangabandhu had worked on environment and safe water issues while he had also promulgated the Water Pollution Control Ordinance in 1973.
Besides, the Jhao (tamarisk) forest was created in Cox's Bazar under the direct initiative of Father of the Nation while he had also started work for afforestation at Nijhum Island and Char Monpura alongside releasing animals and birds there.
The prime minister lamented that the actions of the subsequent governments after 1975 destroyed the environment. For example, she said Ziaur Rahman had cut down most of the larger and beautiful trees in the city during his regime.