Ensure anyone can file case to save environment
A parliamentary body yesterday recommended bringing an amendment to the "Environment Court Act" so that any citizen of the country can file a case over environmental damage, pollution, and different forms of irregularities.
The parliamentary standing committee on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change also recommended adjusting the amount of fine to the gravity of environmental harm.
"Under the existing law, aggrieved citizens cannot just file cases over environmental damage, pollution or irregularities on their own. They need to do so through the Department of Environment, after getting permission of its director general," Saber Hossain Chowdhury, chief of the parliamentary body, told The Daily Star after emerging from the meeting.
The meeting was held at the DoE office in the capital's Agargaon.
Saber, also an Awami League lawmaker, said the parliamentary watchdog has recommended dropping the provision of taking permission from the DoE's director general before filing a case.
About increasing fines, Saber said at present, the amount of fine is not proportional to the gravity of polluting the environment. Therefore, polluters prefer just paying the fine rather than addressing the issue.
For example, the committee chief said an owner of a tannery industry used to save Tk 5 to 10 lakh by shutting down the effluent-treatment plant of his factory, as he only had to pay around Tk 20,000 for this crime.
"We have recommended the adjustment so that the fine can be in line with the intensity of the crime of polluting the environment," he said.
The parliamentary standing committee also recommended imposing compensation relative to the harm done to the environment. "At present, there is no clear cut instruction about how to fix the amount of compensation. We have recommended determining a protocol and rule in this regard."
The meeting was also informed that in the last 13 years, the Directorate of Enforcement has imposed compensation of Tk 484.75 crore from 11,883 organisations.
Environment Minister Md Shahab Uddin and State Minister for Environment Habibun Nahar were present at the meeting among others.