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Rhetoric alone not enough to protect environment



THE assertion of the industries minister on Thursday that effluent treatment plant is going to be made mandatory for all industrial factories is indeed well-intentioned but not quite assuring. According to a report published in New Age on Friday, when addressing an exchange of views at a Chittagong hotel on Thursday, he said that ‘anyone wishing to launch an industry must set up ETP’ and that ‘if it is a cluster one, a cluster ETP must be set up.’ It is not, perhaps, the first time that the industries minister has articulated his or her government’s commitment to environment-friendly industrialisation; it is unlikely to be the last. Regrettably, however, while successive governments have talked tall about protection of the environment and preservation of the ecology, they have hardly taken any effective steps to translate their words into deeds. The limping government plant to relocate the tanneries at Hazaribagh on the bank of the Buriganga, which pour some 22,000 cubic metres of untreated waste into the river every day, is a case in point.
While the relocation of the tanneries has been on the agenda for close to a decade now, its progress has been painfully slow. Incidentally, the relocation plan currently remains stalled over establishment of a ‘cluster’ effluent treatment plant at Savar where the tanneries are supposed to be relocated. Initially, the installation of the treatment plant was tangled in the debate over who would bear its expenditure. Now, according to a report published in New Age early this month, the project is tangled in a legal web, with a writ petition filed over the selection of a Chinese company for the installation of the plant remaining pending. The authorities concerned do not seem to be in any hurry to resolve the legal impasse.
Against such a discouraging backdrop, there is hardly any reason to take the industries minister’s assertion on its face value and rest assured. The minister and his government need to realise that mere rhetoric is not enough to ensure environment-friendly industrial growth.




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