Monthly Overview on State of Environment, Bangladesh, January 2014

Bangladesh ranked 169th among 178 countries in the Global Environmental Performance Index 2014. Bangladesh scored 25.61 out of 100 taking into consideration indicators like health impacts, air quality, water and sanitation, water resources, agriculture, forests, fisheries, biodiversity and habitat. Read more in this January 2014 edition of the Monthly Overview on State of Environment, Bangladesh.

ENVIRONMENT

Bangladesh needs US$ 2.8 billion by 2021 to address health hazards caused by the adverse impacts of climate change, according to an official estimate. Bangladesh has been selected for the “Global Green Award 2014,” Environment and Forests Minister Hasan Mahmud announced at a press briefing at the Secretariat. He said Paris-based Otherways Management Association had decided to provide the award to the environment and forests ministry of Bangladesh for its outstanding contribution to the sustainable development of environment Bangladesh ranked 169th among 178 countries in the Global Environmental Performance Index 2014. Bangladesh scored 25.61 out of 100 taking into consideration indicators like health impacts, air quality, water and sanitation, water resources, agriculture, forests, fisheries, biodiversity and habitat.

LAND, AGRICULTURE, GRAZING LANDS AND ANIMAL CARE

Authorities in Bangladesh have released the country’s first ever genetically modified crop to farmers amid criticism from environmental groups, officials said. Cultivation of Bina-7 Aman paddy has seen success in the southern areas of Bangladesh for the first time. Farmers in barind areas under northwestern region of Bangladesh have started switching to cereals from paddy with new technology and seed in the wake of adverse impact of climate change. Late blight diseases has broken out in most of the potato farmlands in Nilphamari district. Bangladesh Krishi Bank (BKB) Narsingdi region has distributed over Taka 29,31 crore as agricultural loan among 3,414 farmers of Narsingdi district in Bangladesh, during the first six months of the current fiscal 2013-14 through its 21 branches. In a bid to boost agricultural production and increase income of the countries rural farmers, an initiative has been taken to impart training to around 10 lakh male and female farmers in Bangladesh, on integrated farm management to create employment opportunities through establishing some 20,000 farmers’ field schools.

 

MINING

Lifting of sand from Chikli river at Sahapur and Sakimuddinerdanga areas under Badarganj municipality in the Upazila of Rangpur district in Bangladesh, is going on unabated causing serious risk for the river bank, cultivable lands and other establishments. Acting on petitions, the High Court last year directed the Bangladesh  government to stop stone extraction and declare the Jaflong-Dawki River as an ecologically critical area (ECA). Bangladesh Environmentalist Lawyers’ Association (BELA) filed two separate writ petitions with the High Court seeking order to stop extraction of stones illegally from the Dawki, Piyain and Dhalai rivers using excavators.

WATER RESOURCES AND FISHERIES

Fish cultivation in floating cages in river water has made fish cultivators optimistic for getting success with extra income in Dewanganj upazila of Jamalpur district in Bangladesh. Indigenous fish species, particularly the small ones, are on the verge of extinction due to sharp decline in their breeding and feeding grounds in the vast Barind tract of Bangladesh.

DAMS

India’s Ken-Betwa river link project could bring dire consequences for Bangladesh by reducing flow of the river entering the country, observed environmentalists.

They expressed their concerns at a press briefing jointly organised by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon and Bangladesh Environment Network at Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital. They demanded the project, along with 29 other river linking projects across India, to be scrapped, as most of them might turn Bangladesh into a desert by reducing the river flow from the upstream.

FORESTS

Bangladesh Environment and Forests Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud said forest coverage in the country has increased to 13.2 percent from 9.5 because of massive forestation programme implemented during tenure of the present government.  More than a hundred acres of forest opposite to Tagsi pastureland in Bhutan, have been destroyed so far by fire that started on December 27.

POLLUTION

Bangladesh is the ninth most polluted country in the world according to the global Environmental Performance Index (EPI) for 2014. The Index, released on January 25, at World Economic Forum, in Davos also listed Bangladesh as the country with most polluted air quality around the world in the survey conducted using data from 178 countries. Department of Environment (DoE) in Bangladesh, fined five brick kilns in Gazipur Tk 19 lakh for the violation of environment laws. The Department of Environment (DoE) in Bangladesh, fined four factories in Gazipur a total of Tk 4.9 million for discharging effluent into river and marshland. Sources at the DoE said the factories have long been damaging the local eco-system by dumping wastes into the Turag River and nearby marshes and using faulty effluent treatment plants. The High Court directed the Bangladesh government to immediately take steps to stop dumping of wastes into the Narod river in Natore and its pollution. Around 25 percent people in Madaripur district of Bangladesh, have been suffering from acute Respiratory Tract Infection (RTI) due to air pollution caused by the black smoke-emitting unfit vehicles.

FLOODS, DROUGHTS AND NATURAL DISASTERS

The Bangladesh Water Development Board (WDB) started dredging the Jamuna river channel to protect Sirajganj town from erosion, spending around Tk100 crore.

HABITAT

The World Bank will give $410m credit to promote municipal governance and basic urban services in district towns and municipalities in Bangladesh. Communications Minister Obaidul Quader said the Bangladesh government has taken a 100-day programme for developing and repairing the country's roads and highways.

WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION

A water project in Rangamati has been completed to supply pure water to 200 families of Sajek Valley area under Baghaichhari upazila in Bangladesh. Hundreds of people are suffering in Garo localities at Jhenaigati in Sherpur of Bangladesh, as severe shortage of drinking water has been going on from the beginning of the winter that remains a dry season. More than 33,000 slum households in Bangladesh, are enjoying sanitation facilities by dint of installation of 11,000 hygienic latrines in the metropolis.

PEOPLE

At least 22.7 percent of the working children in Savar upazila of Dhaka have been forced into child labour chiefly because of family problems and penury, according to a survey. Hundreds of poor people in 14 char unions of Narsingdi district in Bangladesh, attained self- reliance economically and changed their life style through various income generating activities by their own initiatives.

 

HEALTH AND OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS

The number of child cancer patients in Bangladesh is on the rise, with blood cancer affecting the kids more than half a total number. Over 1.5 crore children in Bangladesh, have been vaccinated during the first four days of the national measles-rubella vaccination campaign, the largest ever of its kind. Officials have so far provided vaccines for measles and rubella diseases, as well as two drops of polio vaccines, to 1 crore 53 lakh 47 thousand 116 children between the ages of nine months to 15 years, at the rate of vaccinating 38 lakh children a day. The Bangladesh government is yet to take steps to enforce the law prohibiting smoking in public places exposing the people to health hazards. In a bid to protect children, women and non-smokers from the deadly impacts of passive smoking, the government on 29 April 2013 passed "Smoking & tobacco products uses (Control) (Amendment) Bill 2013" forbidding smoking in public places and transports.

PESTICIDES AND HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS

High level of mercury was detected in human body and fresh water fishes in different parts of Bangladesh, revealed a recent study that has not yet been published. Environment and Social Development Organisation, a non-governmental organisation working on development and health, associated with International POPs Elimination Network and Zero Mercury Working Group conducted the study between 2012 and 2013. According to World Health Organisation, mercury is considered to be one of the top ten chemicals or group of chemicals of major public health concern.

ENERGY

The Department of Environment in Bangladesh fined a power generating company Tk 50 lakh for construction of a power station without environment clearance. State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid said that the Bangladesh government plans to generate 24,000 MW of electricity by 2021. The Power Development Board (PDB) in Bangladesh, is going to adopt the latest Ultra Supercritical Technology to set up coal based thermal power plants. The Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development II (RERED II) Project is continuing to provide access to electricity in rural areas of Bangladesh through renewable energy sources. With support from World Bank and other development partners, the Bangladesh government’s solar home system programme is taking power to more than 50,000 rural households every month.

 

LIVING RESOURCES

A herd of wild elephants from India damaged houses, crops and paddy fields at Makhanerchar village under Dewanganj upazila of Jamalpur district in Bangladesh. An exceptional fair of wildlife rescued from different areas in the region was held in Rajshahi city aiming at creating mass-awareness about protecting wildlife population from further degradation. Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation Division under the Department of Forest organized the fair at Padma Garden near the bank of the river Padma.

 

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