Acknowledging the importance of the Sundarbans for the country's existence, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government took development projects keeping in mind that the mangrove forest should not be affected in any way.
The Sundarbans is not only a heritage for Bangladesh, it is also important for the country's existence, Hasina said at a function organised on the occasion of World Environment Day, tree fair and National Tree Plantation Campaign in the capital's Bangabandhu International Conference Centre.
"To expand the Sundarbans, we've already taken an initiative to create artificial mangrove forests." She had already given directives to the authorities to expand the forest across the coastal region.
The PM also said her government had taken various steps to preserve the bio-diversity of the world's largest mangrove forest and introduced “smart patrolling" to contain crimes inside the forest. The authorities have taken measures to create alternative employment opportunities for local people living around the forest so that they don't cut down trees unnecessarily.
Earlier, Hasina handed over “Bangabandhu Award for Wildlife Conservation”, “National Environment Award” and Prime Minister's National Award for Tree Plantation at the programme.
Emphasising the importance of waste management in the industrial zones, Hasina said she already asked the authorities to ensure the use of central effluent treatment plants (ETP).
The government has made it mandatory for every industrial zone to build ETPs to ensure waste management centrally, and directed all concerned to strictly monitor so that no one can violate the directives.
Terming Bangladesh the biggest delta in the world, Hasina said hills, seas, rivers and canals, and plants and animals made its rich biodiversity, and this biodiversity provided people with all necessary food, clothes and housing materials.
The country's biodiversity is now facing a challenge due to its over population, indiscriminate felling of trees and extraction of natural resources, cutting of hills, filling of water bodies, reduction in navigability, misuse of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in agriculture and above all unplanned urbanisation and industrialisation, Hasina said.
On protection of the environment, the PM said her government took effective steps to reduce the environmental pollution and deal with adverse impacts of climate change through tree plantation and afforestation.
Recently, Bangladesh Biodiversity Act, 2016 was enacted to preserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable extraction of natural resources.
Moreover, the government has been putting in efforts to conserve natural resources and environment through sustainable management.
Hasina urged all to plant at least one fruit, one timber and one herbal saplings to contribute to the maintenance of the natural and ecological balance and to making a green-economy dependent golden Bangla a reality.
At one point, she said, "Whatever project we take, at least we give special attention to the Sundarbans so that this forest must not be affected.”
Environment and Forests Minister Anwar Hossain Manju, Deputy Minister Abdullah Al Islam Jakob and Secretary Istiaque Ahmed also spoke there.
Deputy Commission of Barisal Gazi Md Saifuzzaman and Mokarram Hossain of Kalabagan, Dhaka received the National Environment Award under the individual category while Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd got it under the institution category for their contribution to protecting the environment through checking pollution.
Prof of botany at Chittagong University Shafique Haidar Chowdhury, journalist Ataur Rahman Kajal of Srimangal, and Rinku Rani Mandal, on behalf of Village Tiger Response Team, received Bangabandhu Award for the Wildlife Conservation-2017.
Hasina also handed over cheques to the beneficiaries of the social afforestation programme.
Later, the prime minister planted a jackfruit sapling at the BCCI compound marking the National Tree Plantation Campaign. She also inaugurated the National Environment Fair and National Tree Fair-2017 at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.
The theme of this year's World Environment Day is “Connecting to the nature” while the theme of the Tree Plantation Campaign is “Those who plant tree become rich”.