Bangladesh State of Environment Report: The Monthly Overview, November, 2014

Bangladesh alongwith Sierra Leone and South Sudan led a ranking of countries facing extreme risks as a result of climate change, exacerbating the chances of civil conflict, according to a study by Maplecroft. Read more in December 2014 edition of the Monthly Overview on State of Environment,Bangladesh.

ENVIRONMENT
Visiting Assistant Secretary General and Director at the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy of UNDP Michael O’Neill commended Bangladesh people’s resilience in adapting to climate change and fighting urban poverty. Bangladesh, Sierra Leone and South Sudan led a ranking of countries facing extreme risks as a result of climate change, exacerbating the chances of civil conflict, according to a study by UK researcher Maplecroft.

LAND, AGRICULTURE, GRAZING LANDS AND ANIMAL CARE
The International Food Policy Research Institute called on Bangladesh to promote the use of genetically-modified food crops such as Bt Brinjal and Zinc-rice.  The Bangladesh government has again planned to produce a rice variety which is rich in vitamin A, after the first move failed to yield satisfactory results. The variety is known as Golden Rice. In the wake of adverse impact of climate change, farmers have started switching to cereals from paddy with new technology and seed in the vast barind tract. The Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has taken massive programme to cultivate winter vegetables in all ten upazila of Netrakona district in Bangladesh during the current winter season. The Bangladesh government has launched agriculture rehabilitation and incentive programmes with a cost of nearly Taka 24 crore to compensate crop loss of the flood-affected farmers and motivate the southern region farmers in cereal and pulse production. The Bangladesh government will distribute free seeds and chemical fertilisers among over two lakh farmers in 26 districts, said Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury.

MINING
Illegal sand lifting from the Bangalee River at Hashapotal village threatens adjacent Bilchapri Bridge as well as croplands, roads and dwellings of the nearby areas in Alangi union of Dhunat upazila under Bogra  district in Bangladesh.

WATER  RESOURCES AND FISHERIES
The Bangladesh government has taken up a Tk 400 crore project for the development of Gulshan-Banani Lake as it will be linked with Hatirjheel project widening facilities for the city dwellers. Indigenous fish species, particularly the small ones, are on the verge of extinction due to various reasons including frequent and indiscriminate use of harmful pesticides and chemical fertilizers in agricultural land, water-bodies and wetland, throughout the northern region in Bangladesh.

DAMS
There are only four canals in Barisal city now because of rampant filling, encroachments and grabbing of the water bodies.  A division bench of High Court  ordered relevant authorities to take steps for preserving Jail Khal (Jail Canal) and stopping filling and dumping waste on the canal within next two weeks.  India is not ready to allow Bangladesh to import hydroelectricity from its eastern part at this moment and it wants to go slowly on the matter.

FORESTS
Running of illegal saw mills at different places in Kalapara upazila of Patuakhali  in Bangladesh, has created havoc on environment making the coastal belt more vulnerable to the adverse impact of climate change.  According to Kalapara forest office, a total of 59 saw mills are running in the upazila. Of them, 40 saw mills have approval from the Department of Environment and Forest department while 19 others are operating without any approval.

POLLUTION    
The National Board of Revenue in Bangladesh,  is set to exclude hundreds of brick fields from the list of polluting industries for surcharge imposition due to contradiction in the definition of industry and establishment specified in the law and rules, officials said. Toxic wastes from a used oil recycling factory in BSCIC Shilpa Nagari (industrial area) in Habiganj of Bangladesh,  is polluting the environment and harming croplands surrounding the factory despite recurring protests by the locals. Hazaribagh tannery industry in Dhaka,  largely contributes to the pollution of the environment. As many as 240 tanneries run on 25 hectares of land, discharging about 6000 cubic metres of effluent and 10 tonnes of solid waste every day. Local people formed a human chain under Jagir Bridge in Sadar upazila of Bangladesh, demanding urgent steps to save Dhaleswari River from pollution and land grabbers.
 
FLOODS, DROUGHTS AND NATURAL DISASTERS
A total of 4,91,102 farmers have been affected by two recent floods that caused a financial loss of Tk 695.20 crore, according to final estimate of Bangladesh agriculture ministry. A total of 1,000 flood affected families of two upazilas of Gaibandha district in Bangladesh, received financial grant of Taka 30 lakh from World Food Programme (WFP). Residents of six villages under sadar upazila in Kurigram staged demonstrations in the district town, demanding immediate steps to protect the villages from river erosion.

HABITAT
The Bangladesh government has planned to build a “green and smart” Purbachal city, having own power production and supply system and utility services, by 2019. The Bangladesh government has approved in principle to purchase 300 double-decker and 100 articulated buses to stop the nagging traffic snarl-up in the capital city.

WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION
The Munshiganj water  treatment  plant will add some 450 liters per day from the Padma River to Dhaka Water Supply & Sewerage Authority’s (Wasa) supply network.  Wasa is currently supplying 2,000 million litres per day water against a demand of 2,200 million litres per day in the capital. Bangladesh has achieved a remarkable success in sanitation coverage as 97 per cent households now use latrines while the figure was only 33 percent in 2003.

PEOPLE
Hundreds of the landless and distressed women in Bangladesh, have adapted them with climate change in remote char areas on the Brahmaputra basin after struggling with natural disasters and poverty for many years. Women in the rural areas are making more contribution to the country’s agriculture sector and uplifted their participation in the rural economy over the years. According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) data, a total of 2.56 crore labourers were engaged in agriculture in 2010. Among them, 1.5 crore were women.

HEALTH AND OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS
People of 45 districts in Bangladesh, are at risk of contracting kala-azar as the fly-borne disease breaks out in different parts of country in recent times, a study report said. In recent years, kala-azar breaks out in different districts especially in Mymensingh, Pabna, Rajshahi and Nilphamari, and the disease emerges as a new health challenge for the government. The International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (icddrb) and Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital jointly conducted the survey. The Bangladesh government is going to introduce two new vaccines for children by next year as part of a programme to reduce child mortality in the country, officials said. According to the Bangladesh Urban Health Survey 2013 (BUHS-2013), birth rate per woman in urban slums declined from 2.5 in 2006 to 2.0 in 2013 while for non-slum women it dwindled to 1.7 compared to 1.9 in 2006. The highest rate of malnutrition has been found among children living in the slums of the country, revealed the Bangladesh Urban Health Survey 2013 report. According to recent statistics, at least 37 percent of children under five in Bangladesh are stunted due to malnutrition and a local English daily reported that children residing in slums are the biggest sufferers as they have the highest rate of malnutrition amongst all the children of the country. Though the government has taken steps to decrease the malnutrition situation, they seem almost insignificant in comparison to the millions of affected children.The Bangladesh Urban Health Survey 2013 report mentions that fifty percent of children from slums below five years are stunted, whereas the percentage stands at 33 in non-slum areas.  

HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS
The rampant use of toxic chemicals at almost every workplace is putting the huge number of the country’s workforce at high health risk, as according to a survey, at least 21 people die in Bangladesh every month due to use of such chemicals. According to a survey conducted recently by Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation, at least 21 people die in Bangladesh due to toxic chemicals each month.

LIVING RESOURCES
In Bangladesh, the second phase of the tiger census project using camera trapping method is going to begin in November, forest officials informed. In the first phase of the Bangladesh-India joint tiger census project, completed in April, 89 infrared cameras were used to capture tigers' photos within about 3,000 sq km area in Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans. The result cannot be made public yet. Four blackbucks, were introduced for the first time at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park in Gazipur after being bought from the Netherlands. A mobile court sentenced five poachers to three months’ imprisonment each in Sirajganj district of Bangladesh.
 

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