Bangladesh has qualified to graduate from the least developed country (LDC) club one after 50 years of independence. It is expected that the country will be upgraded as a developed one within 2041. Industrialisation, high GDP and per capita income, advanced technological infrastructure and service sectors, quality healthcare and higher education, sophisticated residential facilities, skilled human resources are the major parameters of a developed country. Environment is another most crucial issue for a country to get the status of a developed one. Environmental development depends on combined efforts and initiatives of the government and the citizens. Proper enforcement of and abiding by the environmental laws are also essential for a better environment.
Singapore can be a role model for Bangladesh in environmental development. Both the government and the people are respectful to environmental laws. As a result, Singapore stepped in the list of developed countries within few years of independence. The difference of independence of the two countries may be hardly 6 years.
The awareness about environmental laws in Dhaka city, the capital of Bangladesh, is quite shocking. We are very much indifferent to dumping garbage in the right place. While passing through the streets people throw all types of garbage on the road including, banana peels, food packets, cigarette filters, etc.
Medical waste, sanitary napkins, pampers and used clothes are thrown into the side drains, streets and sewerage lines, flushing the insoluble stuffs in the toilet commode. Pieces of broken glass, old furniture, paper, polythene, used plastic bottles and other plastic materials, cartoons, cans, fruit peels, vegetable peels and waste are dumped on the side walk. Insects and mosquitoes are buzzing in the streets with rotten waste. Pedestrians, rickshaw pullers, hawkers, street children and slum children are leaving excrement here and there. Most of the dustbins in the city are left open on the road and the passersby suffer the worst.
The dirt from the sewers lying on the road is drying up and turning into dust, the toxic dust flies in the air and finally enters our lungs. The smell of dirty drain water is making the air heavier. According to the latest report of the World Air Quality Index, Dhaka is the second most polluted city in the world.
All kinds of water-insoluble impurities are accumulating and narrowing the sewage line. Somewhere faeces mixed with dirty water is coming out through the mouth of the manhole. City dwellers are suffering during rainy days. Rainwater gets stagnant in most of the streets and sewage is mixed with that. Somewhere manholes are left with lids open. The city dwellers live and move through such horrendous environment suffering multiple diseases and accidents.
In a featured story titled 'Clean and Resilient Growth in Bangladesh' published on the World Bank Group website said `Every year Bangladesh loses about $6.5 billion, or about 3.4 per cent of its 2015 GDP, which may be caused by pollution and environmental degradation in urban areas. A World Bank report shows that Bangladesh is among the countries that are most affected by pollution. The country urgently needs to take measures to prevent environmental degradation and pollution.
The report, "Enhancing Opportunities for Clean and Resilient Growth in Urban Bangladesh: Country Environmental Analysis 2018" warns that pollution in cities has reached alarming levels. An estimated 28 per cent of all deaths in Bangladesh are caused by pollution, compared to a 16 per cent global average.'
The report suggests actions in the following areas:
• Enhance environmental policy and strengthen institutions at the local and national level
• Strengthen the enforcement and accountability of systems
• Leverage market-based instruments and unlock green financing
• Promote resource efficient and cleaner production
• Harness the power of public pressure by increasing transparency and greater citizen engagement in development decision making."
Several infrastructural developments including roads and bridges are now visible in Bangladesh. The government's efforts and campaigns for environmental development are also noticeable. But those are inadequate in comparison to the requirements.
Sustainable development is a prerequisite for a developed country. And environmental development is essential to make development sustainable. It is high time to put emphasis on environmental awareness building among the people for betterment of civic life and environment. The government and the people have to put all-out efforts together for a corruption free, environmental and socio-economic development of the country with honesty, sincerity and devotion.
The writer is a banker, Email:[email protected]