The government is likely to impose eco or green tax in the upcoming fiscal year in a bid to check environmental pollution by industries.
The tax, which may be 1 percent, is expected to be slapped on industries that are yet to set up effluent treatment plants (ETPs) to purify wastewater.
Industries that produce products hazardous to environment may also face the tax, according to finance ministry officials.
The move comes on the back of fervent demand from green activists and economists in a bid to discourage widespread pollution of mainly rivers by various industries such as tanneries and dyeing.
The Buriganga and other rivers around Dhaka, including the Turag, the Bangshi, Tongi Khal, the Balu and the Shitalakkhya, have become highly polluted due to dumping of industrial and household wastes into these rivers.
Among them, the Buriganga, the lifeline of Dhaka, is the most polluted, having zero oxygen level in its waters for nine months in a year due to dumping of toxic tannery wastes from Hazaribagh.
Despite their ill effects on Buriganga, none of the 155 tanners located at Hazaribagh are yet to establish ETPs, although the government offers import duty privileges for it.
“We are considering imposition of the tax as surcharge on the most polluting industries. The tax will act as disincentive for pollution and thereby encourage for taking measures to control pollution,” said a senior official of the National Board of Revenue.
Moreover, Finance Minister AMA Muhith, on several occasions, said the government is considering green tax to discourage pollution in fiscal year 2014-15.
“This is good step to discourage pollution and ensure social justice,” said Fahmida Khatun, research director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue.
“We have been sharing our concerns for the last several years that pollution has been rising. But, polluters get off the hook while the common people suffer.”
Apart from leather and dyeing, industries such as brick kilns, shipbreaking also contribute to environmental pollution, she said.
The local think-tank suggested imposition of water pollution tax to bring down the 'alarming' levels of pollution in open water bodies.
“The fishery sector is under risk. Implementation of environmental laws and introduction of water are therefore needed to protect fisheries,” said the CPD researcher, while also recommending for soil pollution tax.
Abdul Matin, general secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, however, said the imposition of such tax would not be enough to curb pollution.
“We do not want to see imposition of tax as a last step. The government has to enforce other laws to prevent environmental pollution.”