High dependency on groundwater and careless behaviour towards surface water is one of the major reasons behind environment pollution which may cause disasters like water scarcity in near future.
Besides, present water demand for drinking, irrigation and industrial purpose which are mostly ground water dependent has already depleted and contaminated, experts observed during a webinar on Thursday.
A staggering Tk 3.75 billion is spent on water purification annually by burning gas. This way the country has been losing an opportunity cost due to environment disaster, they added.
Over the past 50 years, the experts said, adequate laws and policies have been enacted to address environmental issues but the challenge remains with their enforcement.
Their views came during the webinar styled ‘Progress, Challenge and Way Forward: The 50th Anniversary of Independence’ marking World Earth Day 2021.
Change Initiative, Clean, BELA, Bangladesh Environment and Development Society, Initiative for Rights, Maleya Foundations and Riverine People co-hosted the event.
Environment and climate finance analyst M Zakir Hossain Khan presented a keynote.
He said the government has addressed many environmental issues in many policy documents for conserving and protecting the environment after independence, but the practice is something else in reality.
“Instead of being more careful towards preserving environment, we see forest areas getting disappeared, rivers, canals and other water bodies polluted, occupied and used for housing.”
“Development projects are being implemented by destroying forests and rivers,” Mr Zakir mentioned.
“The greatest achievement in these 50 years has happened in sanitation sector where 85-per cent people have access, but the situation of safe drinking water is very weak as only 48 per cent have access.”
There is hardly any progress in industry relocation, Buriganga river protection from pollution, he added.
The keynoter said major damage to agricultural land is being caused by chemicals, fertiliser and pesticides, suggesting imposition of tax on environment polluters.
Ainun Nishat, professor emeritus at BRAC University, called for following sustainable development goals only for conserving and protecting the environment.
There is in coordination among ministries and departments and lack of monitoring, he said, adding that Bangladesh has no shortage of law and policy, but the problem lies with their enforcement.
IUCN Bangladesh country representative Raqibul Amin said the country has many achievements in many sectors, but there are challenges in environmental protection.
BELA executive director Syeda Rizwana Hasan said there is lack of leadership and intention of environment ministry and other subsidiary organisations to work to protect the environment. There is a shortage of manpower to monitor allied organisations. These issues must be addressed, she observed.