Budget reflects no concern for environment | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 06, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:24 AM, June 06, 2021

Budget reflects no concern for environment

The proposed budget, placed before parliament just two days before World Environment Day, shows the government is hardly concerned about the country's environmental degradation.

In last year's budget, the allocation for the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change was Tk 1,246 crore. This year, the government reduced the amount by Tk 25 crore, and this year's allocation is set at Tk 1,221 crore.

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While this year, the theme for World Environment Day is "Ecosystem Restoration", Bangladeshi environmentalists believe the government's negligence in the sector is affecting the country's overall environmental health.

Bangladesh is one of the most climate-vulnerable country and was ranked at 162 out of 180 countries in the 2020 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), which evaluates the environmental health of the countries and the vitality of their ecosystems.

Upon analysing the climate relevant allocation for environment, forest and climate change ministry, a significant decline between 2017-18 and 2021-22 was noticed.

The amount for the climate relevant allocation was Tk 419.92 crore in 2017-18, which dropped to Tk 379.21 crore in 2021-22.

In the proposed budget, the government allocated 25.8 percent of the development budget for transport and communication, 11.5 for energy and power, 15.1 percent for local government and rural development, 19.7 percent for education and technology, 5.6 percent for agriculture, 6.6 percent for health, 6.4 percent for public administration and three percent for social security.

The government, for the fifth time now, has prepared a separate climate budget report, which shows that a lot of the government-allocated money went to 25 ministries that conduct different development programmes.

It said the cumulative budget allocation of these 25 ministries accounts for 57.33 percent of the total national budget of FY2021-22.

Of that, 7.26 percent is climate relevant.

While World Environmental Day was observed just yesterday, two days after the proposed budget was announced, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal did not seem to mention the ecosystem or the restoration of our degraded environment in his speech delivered on Thursday.

He only said that 16 round-the-clock air monitoring centres are being set up around the country out of concern over air pollution.

Information and data collected from this monitoring will be stored and analysed scientifically to determine the air quality for the air quality index, which is published on a daily basis, he said.

Dhaka has consistently been listed as one of the countries with the worst air for years.

Besides, the minister talked about use of hollow block to reduce the air pollution.

Regarding noise pollution, he said, "The Bangladesh Secretariat area has been declared a horn-free zone."

Sharif Jamil, secretary general, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa), said, "The government generally ignores whenever environmentalists demand anything to protect the environment."

He added that it should take measures to curb water and air pollution and to save forests and wildlife.

"We do not see any visible government measures in this regard." 

Asked Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, told The Daily Star the government should focus on protection of the environment and the restoration the of ecosystem, as it is now linked also with foreign trade. 

"Bangladesh is now graduating from LDC. Other countries will want to know whether products made in Bangladesh were produced in a sustainable environment or not."

Th European Union has already raised questions about pollution caused by the tannery industry.

 

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