Polluters protest legal steps against them!!!
In the presence of the environment and forests minister, owners of some industries, largely responsible for vitiating environment, yesterday demanded that the government stop anti-pollution drives so that they can continue their activities without any hindrance.
The industries — steel mills, re-rolling mills, plastic factories and brickfields — are facing huge financial losses as the Department of Environment (DoE), fines them for pollution, they claimed at a view-exchange meeting.
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) organised the programme titled “Environment-related Problems and Solutions” at its conference lounge in the capital.
The discussion began around 12:30pm, two hours beyond schedule, showing an excuse of the late arrival of the chief guest.
The industry leaders placed their allegations against the DoE after the chief guest, Environment and Forests Minister Hasan Mahmud arrived.
They urged the government to take some measures so that they would not face any immediate action for polluting environment.
They also said the DoE officials behave rudely and often demand toll in case of delay in depositing the fined amount, a claim protested and challenged by the DoE officials present at the function. The industry leaders, however, immediately could not place any particular evidence of such act.
Mohammad Shahjahan, general secretary of Steel Mill Owners’ Association, Mohammad Jasimuddin, vice-president of the incumbent Board of Directors of the FBCCI, and the representatives of other three organisations spoke.
“As the DoE officials are penalizing the industries huge amount of money and showing us the threat of police and Rab, many mills and factories have been closed and thousands of labourers have become unemployed,” alleged an enraged Shahjahan.
He also pointed out that the DoE did not warn them, neither gave any guideline, a decade ago when they started business.
Jasimuddin demanded that before taking any stringent action against the industries, the government must take effective measures to establish planned and separate industrial estates with central effluent treatment plants (CETPs) installed there.
However, the minister said it was not possible to stop the enforcement activities, but assured them of considering not shutting the industries following drives.
Hasan said the environment ministry would take measures with regard to establishing CETPs for reducing the cost of the industrial units after discussions with the concerned government bodies and provide the industries with required guidelines.
He also pointed out that the industries ministry is supposed to see the matters of setting up CETPs for businesses.
Regarding the pollution of river Buriganga, the minister said a comprehensive plan was needed to save the river and shifting the industries operating near the riverbank.
DoE Director General Monowar Islam said the DoE was compelled to fine the alleged industries “as the level of pollution has crossed the limit of the DoE rules”.
He said the regulator usually charges the polluting industries minimum fines.