The politically powerful are destroying the environment: Rehman Sobhan

Professor Rehman Sobhan

The politically powerful and influential are destroying the environment in the country. They don't give a hoot about the country's laws and are encroaching rivers, destroying forests and endangering the environment.

That is why environmentalists must take part in the national election so as to raise their demands. They must go to the centre of power and speak out.

Professor Rehman made these comments while addressing the inaugural of the national conference of Bangladesh Paribash Andolan (BAPA) and Bangladesh Environmental Network (BEN) at the central Shahid Minar.

Rehman Sobhan could not attend the event in person. Dhaka University's professor of economics MM Akash read out his statement.

The gathering was joined by persons from various regions and various countries of the world. Thousands of environment activists gathered at the central Shahid Minar with banners and festoons, highlighting various aspects of protecting the environment. Environment activists from eight divisions of the country will raise their demands at this conference.

Former professor of Jahangirnagar University and economist Anu Muhammad said, "Prices of commodities have increased and an economic crisis prevails in the country. Wherever we go in the country, the people point to environmental degradation as a problem. Movements have to be launched to save trees, playing grounds and other elements of the environment. We hear so much about development in the country, but this development means big projects. These projects are threatening people's lives."

Agreeing with Professor Rehman Sobhan, Anu Mahmud said, if the environment has to be saved in this country, we have to fight with the powers. Pointing to three levels of such power, he said, at the first level there are certain powerful companies of the country. These companies are smuggling the country's wealth overseas. The second level comprises the government which is putting the environment at risk in the name of massive projects. But those companies have become even more powerful than the government. And at the third level are politically powerful zemindar-like persons who are destroying forests, encroaching rivers and putting the environment at risk.

Economist MM Akash said, the environment in the country is being destroyed because of three types of people. One type is greedy. The second type is unethical. And the third is politically powerful. They, separately and together, are destroying the country's environment and nature. He called upon the environmentalists to wage a greater political struggle against them.

Chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) Syeda Rizwana Hasan said, "We often hear --first development, then environment. But development that does not protect the environment, will not be sustainable. For example, there is no fog in this spot where we are holding this event today, yet the dust all around has created a fog-like haze. When this dust-laden air enters air bodies, it creates all sorts of ailments."

She call upon all working to protect the environment all over the country to work in an organised manner.

President of BAPA Sultana Kamal could not attend the event in persons as she was out of the country. Member secretary of the conference's preparatory committee Alamgir Kabir read out her statement. In the statement, Sultana Kamal called for the environment protection movement to be taken further to the grassroots.

Also speaking at the event were BEN founder and BAPA vice president Professor Nazrul Islam, Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Professor Md Akhteruzzaman, BAPA vice president Professor Nur Mohammad Talukdar, conference preparatory committee convenor Professor Khandakar Bazlul Huq, former governor of Bangladesh Bank Atiur Rahman, BAPA executive member Professor Khalequzzaman, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)'s distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman and BAPA general secretary Sharif Jamil.