Although they promised a clean and green Dhaka city, mayor and councillor candidates in the DSCC and the DNCC polls have flooded their areas with laminated posters, which are harmful for the environment.
The candidates are using posters laminated with plastic to protect those from rainwater and humidity during the electioneering period.
Visiting nine wards of the two city corporations, this correspondent found most of the posters were laminated.
The situation is similar in areas in nearly 20 other wards, locals said.
There are a total of 129 wards in the two city corporation areas.
According to environmentalists, such posters pose a serious threat to the environment. They said the laminated posters could neither be destroyed nor recycled.
Therefore, the posters will be in the dumping grounds for years only to add to environment pollution, they said, adding that the huge quantity of single-use plastic would clog the drains and cause waterlogging in the coming rainy season.
Shahriar Hossain, secretary general of Environment and Social Development Organisation (ESDO), said the process of lamination also releases toxic chemicals and harm the environment.
“Thick polythene is used for lamination and a special chemical is used to turn polythene thicker. Under a certain temperature polythene is heated for lamination.
“When these laminated papers are heated under sunshine again, they start emitting greenhouse gas,” he said.
Apart from the environmentalists, city corporations’ officials were also worried about the generation of polythene waste of such a large volume.
Seeking anonymity, a DNCC official of waste management department, said, “We’re already facing land crisis for dumping daily waste. These [laminated posters] will worsen the situation.”
An inspector of the DSCC’s waste management department said vagabonds and scavengers would collect some of these waste and throw those here and there.
“That means, pollution will be spread everywhere in the city,” he said.
The elections to Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) are scheduled to be held on February 1. Ahead of the polls, the candidates are conducting door-to-door campaigns along with hanging a huge number of posters.
About 140 mayor and councillor candidates out of the 745, in their disclosure of election expenditures, mentioned that they would print nearly 50 lakh posters. Almost half of which is planned to be printed by the mayor candidates only, as per the EC’s data.
In the 11th parliamentary polls, such posters were printed.
Almost a week before the start of election campaign for Dhaka city corporation polls, the High Court directed the authorities concerned to ban single-use plastic products in coastal areas, hotels, motels and restaurants across the country in one year as those are hazardous to health and environment.
The plastic products include drinking straws, cotton buds, cigarette butts, food packaging, food containers, bottles, plates, plastic cutlery and plastic bags.
The HC bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Khandaker Diliruzzaman came up with the order following a writ petition jointly filed by 11 rights organisations, including Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), seeking necessary order.
The rights organisations submitted the writ petition as a public interest litigation on December 17 last year, mentioning the hazardous effects of plastic -- particularly single-use plastics -- on ecology, aquatic and marine life, soil fertility, agricultural production, human health and safety.
According to the Department of Environment (DoE), the country generates around 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste every day.
Contacted, barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, mayor candidate of the ruling Awami League for the DSCC, told The Daily Star that there was no bar from the Election Commission (EC) on using laminated posters for election campaigns.
“I will remove all the posters at my own expense after the election,” he said.
Mollik Anwar Hossain, additional director general of the DoE, said they were also concerned about the use of plastic on the posters.
“Since the polls are being held under the EC, we are not able to take actions without permission from it,” he said adding that they had prepared a letter to be sent to the EC in this regard.
Asked about the content of the letter, Anwar said, “We will seek legal cooperation from the EC. Besides we will request the authorities to give directives to the candidates to remove the laminated posters.”
Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam said he personally did not encourage the use of plastic and polythene.
Regarding the laminated posters, he said, “There is no legal binding in the EC rules. The Department of Environment can take action as per its law. The EC will not interfere.”