Development in Southwest Bangladesh: Bane for Sundarbans?
The anchored ships at the jetty downloading the LPG [image by: Abu Siddique]
Because of these industries, there is heavy water vehicle movement on the rivers that run through the forest, carrying raw material and fuel to the factories [image by: Abu Siddique]
Because of the forest’s delicate environment, environment specialists and rights activists are concerned about how the government’s decision to facilitate more industrialization of the area.
“It is very clear that the government has changed its stance to accommodate the hazardous industries near the critical ecosystem of the Sundarbans,” said Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA).
“This [government] move will attract more industry owners to the area [because of the supply route, easy access to resources, and less accountability regarding environmental hazards], which will cause more stress to the forest and its ecosystem,” she added.
Brac University Professor Emeritus Dr Ainun Nishat, a renowned expert in water resource management and climate change, echoed Rizwana’s concern.
“Compared with other petrochemical industries, LPG is more environment-friendly. But the problem lies in its transportation, processing and bottling process. Considering the risks, these industries should be included in the ‘Red’ list. The EIA must be a prerequisite to setting up such factories (near the Sundarbans),” he told the Bengal Delta.
However, When contacted, former environment secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed, who signed the gazette notification, defended the decision by saying: “We took this step following the recommendations from the Department of Environment, as well as following the examples of other countries that have LPG factories.”
More industries, more vessel movement through the Sundarbans
Heavy water vehicle movement as well as accidents is on the rise [image by: Abu Siddique]