Nicolas Hermes: Environmental advisor for the Civil Rights Party Of Canada.

Fazlous Satter: Ambassador for Bangladesh

Inquires contact Raphael Louis at; faavm@yahoo.ca

Ecological degradation resulting from oil and gas exploration

The whole Bangladesh mainland and its off-shore areas are gradually being leased for oil/gas explorations. Even the Sundarbans, which is considered as a world heritage and the largest mangrove forest of the globe and only remaining habitat of royal Bengal tiger, is being occupied by the exploration activities of oil/gas companies. The affected area is one of the 23 blocks into which the government divided the national territory for the oil/gas exploration activities by foreign multinational companies. The measure has already been implemented in nearly half of the country area and is affecting several ecosystems rich in biodiversity, like the virgin forests of the hilly eastern part of Bangladesh; stretched from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. Recently government has permitted US Company Chevron to conduct a 3D seismic survey in the Lawachara National Park. The survey of Chevron involves such kinds of experiments which will have long term adverse effects on the sensitive forest. (Satter. Fazlous).

Ecological degradation resulting from the seismic survey in Lawachara National Park: A few years back US Company Chevron conducted a 3D seismic survey in the Lawachara National Park. The survey of Chevron involves such kinds of experiments which will have long term adverse effects on the sensitive forest. The explosions, which were conducted in Lawachara as a part of Chevron’s survey developed crack in various hilly houses, leave the wildlife there in a hazardous position. Being frightened by the shakes generated by the explosions, wild animals left the forest at an alarming rate. In such an incident a Primate Gibbon, in an attempt to flee, jumped onto the electric cable and surrendered to death on 7th May, 2008. It should be noted that Lawachara National Park is a red listed area as a habitat of endangered wildlife and it is also the locality of the indigenous Khasi community who prefer to live in a natural environment and well known as the custodian of forest. According to both national and international law, standard and practices this red listed area should be keep quite from any kind of so-called human/ development intervention, so that the wild animal feel comfort to roaming here. But the said seismic survey created threat to both wildlife as well as indigenous inhabitant.

Ecological degradation resulting from Magurcherra blow-out: The Magurcharra blow-out took place on June 14, 1997, and wreaked havoc on the infrastructure and equipment, the environment and the locality, causing damage to the tune of Tk 4,500 crore, according to the report of the government committee. The massive blowout torn apart the Magurcharra gas field in Moulvibazar’s Kamalganj upazila while US energy company Occidental was drilling a well there. The flora and fauna of the Lawacharra Reserve Forest adjoining the exploded well took the brunt of the explosion. The inferno destroyed a teak grove raised between 1944 and 1950, bamboo shacks created between 1993 and 1995, and a strip of plantation established in 1994. About 96 acres of Lawacharra forest was completely burnt. Fifty percent of the forest resources on 111.15 acres of land and 30 percent resources on 106.21 acres of land were also damaged. Experts said the loss is irrecoverable. Since the fire, wild animals stray into households on the outskirts of the forest in search of food. The US Company Occidental was widely blamed for the devastation caused by its negligence that burned around 245.86 billion cubic feet of gas in block 14. But compensation for the damage remains still a far reach.

Ecological degradation resulting from Tangratila gas field blowout: Tangratila gas field blowout took place on January 7,2005 in Chatok, Sunamgonj. Basically it was the repetition of fault that was the cause of Magurchara blowout. Difference is rather than OCCIDENTAL company name is NIKO who is also a Canadian multinational. This blowout also caused loss of thousands of core taka and local environment but the compensation is yet to be realized.

Environmental conflict resulting from Phulbari Coalmining Project

Government’s agreement with the Asia Energy and the suspicious activities of the said multinational company has created increasing tension, mobilization of interest and violent clashes. Mass resistance of the peoples of Phulbaria area against the coal-mining project and repression escalated the Phulbari conflict that resulted death of numbers of people. Still local peoples fear of loosing their livelihood options as an agriculture farmer and loss of access and control over natural resources including ancestral land and water and also the damage to the local environment. Any further move either from the government or Asia Energy side to implement this project without considering the community opinion could create further violent conflict. (Satter. Fazlous).

Environmental Pollution
Concentration of people in urban growth centers simultaneously increase the concentration of domestic and industrial activities that lead to pollution problem for urban and it’s surrounding areas here in Bangladesh. In the rural area, runoff of agrochemicals from agricultural fields deteriorated water quality. It has mostly affected the fisheries sector. However, pollution issues are most acute in urban areas.

Water Pollution: Water pollution is mostly concentrated in urban growth centers and industrial belts. Due to lack of adequate regulatory measures and institutional setup for proper monitoring and control, pollutants from municipal, industrial and agricultural waste enter into the inland water system. Major causes of pollution that aggravate water quality are industrial effluents, agrochemical, fecal pollution, spillage and low water flow in dry season Industrial pollution and deteriorating water quality is a growing environmental concern. Treatment of industrial waste and effluents has so far been considered as low priority. Most of the industries in Bangladesh are located along the bank of the main rivers. The most significant industrial growth has been recorded after 1982 especially the development of garments, textile and dying sectors. The industrial sector of Bangladesh can be categorized into 3 major categories based on its input: agro-based industries, non-renewable local resource based industry and imported resource based industries (Islam, et. al., 2001).Agro-based Industries: It includes jute, pulp and paper, match, sugar, shrimp salt etc. The main polluter form this category are sugar, pulp and paper and tanneries. On- renewable local resource based industry: Includes industries based on mineral resources, hard rock, sands, glass, limestone and various types of clays. In this sector, the major polluters are cement and fertilizer factories. Imported resource based industries: This category includes textiles, pharmaceuticals, plastic, petroleum/ refineries and metal works. Most of these considered as highly pollutant. These industries emit both organic and inorganic pollutants. The biodegradable organic pollutants reduce the dissolve oxygen of water and hamper the aquatic ecosystem of water and non-biodegradable organic component persist in the environment for a prolong period and pass into the food chain. Inorganic pollutants are mostly metallic substance. They undergo different chemical reaction in the river system and thus seriously deteriorate the water quality. The main suspect’s sources of agricultural run off pollution are from the use of fertilizers and agrochemical like pesticides and herbicide. Water run off from the land pollutes the surface water and cause bioaccumulation of toxic substances in the food chain. It also directly affects aquatic ecosystem and its biotic component.

Solid waste: Estimates for solid waste generated in Dhaka city vary from 3,000 to 3,500 tons per day. They come from households, commercial and industrial establishments and street sweepings. Households generate most of the solid waste, accounting for nearly 45% of the total. Only 42% of the solid waste generated in Dhaka city is estimated to be collected by the municipal authorities. The indiscriminate disposal of solid waste in public places causes serious environmental hazards and health risks. Rotten and decomposed garbage make neighborhoods filthy, foul smelling and unhealthy. Uncontrolled and open dumping also clog the urban drainage system, cause frequent drainage congestion and threaten the contamination of water supply.

Hospital waste: There are about 250 healthcare centers in Dhaka city that includes hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, dental hospitals etc. But inadequate waste management systems in these healthcare facilities are posing a serious threat to public health as well as to the environment. Disposable syringe, needles, blood- soaked pads, used blood bags and such other materials from more than 98 per cent of the health care are simply thrown in the open dustbins. The disposal of such hazardous portion of wastes from hospitals into public waste disposal system exposes the people to serious health risk.

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