Govt. took all steps for conservation of Sundarbans: PM

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DHAKA, July 18, 2018 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said the
government has taken all necessary steps for conservation of the biodiversity
of the Sundarbans and protect the Royal Bengal Tiger inhabiting in the long
mangrove forests.

She said most of the rivers around the mangrove forests dried up due to
shrimp hatchery over the years since 1975. But most of those sweet water
rivers were excavated, making their operational, and dredging of other rivers
is going on.

The prime minister said this while inaugurating the World Environment Day
programmes and Environment Fair-2018 at a function at Bangabandhu
International Conference Center (BICC) here.

Simultaneously the premier inaugurated the National Tree Plantation
Campaign and Tree Fair-2018 and an ambitious plan of planting three million
saplings in the memory of three million martyrs who laid down their lives in
1971.

Sheikh Hasina said the government has also taken steps to prevent forest
crime and create opportunities for alternative employment for local people
dependent on Sundarbans and protect wetlands.

She said the government is implementing extensive forestry activities for
the development of coastal green fountains in 19 newly surfaced chars in
coastal areas. About 2, 10,000 hectares of coastal gardens were created to
protect people from natural disasters.

Wildlife habitat and fish breeding fields were created while about 1,600
square kilometers of land in the Bay of Bengal were connected with main land
of the country through forestation, she added.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Forest
Dr Hasan Mahmud, Deputy Minister Abdullah Al Islam Jacob, Secretary of the
Ministry Abdullah Al Mohsin Chowdhury spoke on the occasion with Environment
Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud in the chair.

On the occasion, the prime minister handed over the National Environment
Award-2018, Bangabandhu Award for Wildlife Conservation-2018, Prime
Minister’s National Award for Tree Plantation-2017 and distributed cheques
among the beneficiaries of the Social Forestation Programme.

The prime minister said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman had taken many steps after liberation for protection of the
environment.

At his initiative the Water Pollution Control Ordinance’ was framed and Water Pollution Control Project was adopted in 1973. In the continuation of this ordinance and project, the Department of Environment was established.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu launched the tree plantation campaign in 1974 to enrich the country with forest resources. At that time he (Bangabandhu) called upon all citizens to be involved with the drive as without their active cooperation, government employees cannot perform this big responsibility.

Sheikh Hasina welcomed the decision of the ministry for planting three million saplings across the country marking the memories of three million martyrs of independence.

She said extent of environmental activities has increased manifold during the present government with giving special importance on conservation of environment.

The present government in the 15th Constitution Amendment has attached a new article stating conservation of environment and biodiversity is the constitutional responsibility of the state.

The prime minister said the number of green areas can be increased by adopting suitable techniques of tree plantation on road side, office-courts, government buildings, parks, river banks, lakes, playgrounds, graveyards, abandoned lands, and even on the rooftop.

Urging everybody to put in their efforts to build Bangladesh a prosperous country in tree plantation, the prime minister said “let us plant at least one woody, one fruity and one medicinal sapling.”

She also urged people to reduce the use of plastic goods, saying, the materials are creating environmental and health hazard across the world.

She said the government has taken steps to use alternate bags of paper and jute and ‘golden bags’ made by local scientists from jute polymer.

Sheikh Hasina urged all ministries and agencies to produce plastic alternative bags and become proactive on the environmental issues. She also requested City Corporations and municipalities to focus more on reusing and recycling of the plastic wastes.

The prime minister said her government has taken effective steps to reduce environmental pollution and tackling adverse weather through tree plantation as well as making rural poor benefitted economically through Social Forestry Programme.

Social Forestry Programme is playing an important role in empowerment of women, leadership creation, employment and poverty alleviation, she said. Under the social forestry programme from 1981-1982 to 2016-17-17, she said forests were created on about 84, 378 hectares of land and 68,830 kilometer roads.

As many as 6,25,955 people were benefitted from the programme among them 1, 21, 507 are women. So far the government has earned revenue of Taka 331.80 crore from the programme, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said over the last nine years the coverage of forest has been increased from 9 percent to 17 percent. As per the 7th Five Year Plan, the government has a target to increase forest coverage to 20 percent by 2020, she said.

The prime minister said the government has taken necessary measures to control industrial pollution through proper application of Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995.

Monitoring and Enforcement activities have been strengthened and manpower of the Department of Environment has been increased from 468 to 735, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said as many as 40 areas of the country rich with forest and biodiversity and 13 coastal areas were declared ecologically critical and steps were taken for their conservation.

Pointing out her government’s initiative to establish Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park at Bhawal in Gazipur district the prime minister said this park has unveiled the idea of wildlife related education and research as well as the entertainment.

Sheikh Russell Aviary Eco-Park in Chittagong and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park at Dulhajara in Cox’s Bazar are now most visited tourist destinations of domestic and foreign tourists, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said now time has come to prevent industrial pollution by ensuring proper management and maintenance of our natural resources and building an environment friendly green economy.

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