Violating the UNESCO, IUCN and other international organizations’ specific guidelines on the protection of the World Heritage site, the Sundarban, the Ministry of Environment is issuing clearance to the Ministry of Industries to allow factories adjacent to the world’s largest mangrove forest.
Businessmen involved in real estate development, power plant construction, shrimp farming and dying factories are now selecting land close to the shore. The location offers the entrepreneurs to transport raw materials and finished products easily, so there has been a mushroom growth of industries near the Mangrove Forest, according to a Department of Environment report made public on Thursday.
“Some 24 factories within 10 kilometre of the Sundarban are in red category,” the report revealed.
When the government’s approval of Rampal Power Plant and establishment of other industries is being severely criticised nationally and internationally, a report of the Department of Environment said that there are 190 industrial units within 10 kilometers of the Sundarban.
The report was submitted to the High Court bench of Justice Moinul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful on Thursday.
Prof Anu Mohammad, Member Secretary of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, said that construction of a single factory adjacent of the Sundarban should not allowed.
“The government should not approve even a single factory realizing the sensitivity of the Sundarban’s ecology and biodiversity. But in reality we witness the approval of 320 industrial units adjacent to the Sundarban,” he said.
Referring to section 5 of the Environment Conservation Act which identifies 10 km surrounding the Sundarban ecologically critical area (ECA) by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 1999, he said, “Now, the government is violating its own laws in every step.
Such actions prove that the Sundarban and its environment are not safe in the hands of the government.”
Dr Abdul Matin, General Secretary of BAPA, (Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon), said that government is engaged in spreading propaganda saying the UNESCO had withdrawn its reservation to setting up of Rampal Power Plant in the Sundarban.
“This is bullshit. UNESCO, on the contrary, says construction of Rampal Power Plant and other industrial units will be destructive to the Sundarban,” Dr Matin said in a telephone interview.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently asked the government not to set up heavy industries without strategic environmental assessment (SEA) clearance.