Prime Minister’s International Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi yesterday said industries are important for economic growth, but there is no excuse behind polluting the environment  recklessly.

“Most of the pollution is coming from industries. They are bound by government regulation to ensure ETP [effluent treatment plant] is installed and operated, but they’re  not doing so. That’s unacceptable, and as a society, we must demand from them of their societal responsibilities,” he said while speaking as chief guest at launching of a project on “Promoting Democratic Governance and Collective Advocacy for  Environmental Protection in Dhaka City” held virtually.

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The  project will be jointly implemented by Waterkeepers Bangladesh,  Department of Geography and Environment of Jahangirnagar University, and  Centre for Atmospheric Pollution Studies of Stamford University, with  support from USAID, UKAID and Counterpart International.

He  also said public interest litigation (PIL) plays a great role in  environmental protection, and the courts have shown that they are open  to the matter.

“Why do we need PIL for laws to be pushed? It often takes away the responsibility of the administration  and agencies, as they wait until the court gives an order,” he said.

Rizvi said the government is now more receptive to advocacy of NGOs, but it must be based on evidence-based research.

Habibun  Nahar, deputy minister for environment, forest and climate change, said  the responsibilities centring environmental pollution surely falls on  her ministry, and people only blame them. “But we, including the people,  are always concerned about our rights, not our responsibilities.”

Sultana Kamal, chairperson of  Blue Planet Initiative, said, “This project aims to address challenges of environmental pollution affecting rivers, which has  been marked as a human rights issue by planners.”

At the webinar, Atiqul Islam, mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation; Judith  Herbertson, development director of Foreign of Commonwealth and   Development Office; Prof Mohammad Ali Naqi, vice-chancellor of Stamford   University; and Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance, also spoke as special guests.

The launching programme  was moderated by the consortium lead and BPI Executive Director Sharif  Jamil, while Prof Dr Nurul Islam of Jahangirnagar University addressed  the vote of thanks, and Mainuddin Ahmed, chief of Promoting Advocacy and  Rights (PAR), gave the welcome speech.

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