Speakers at the discussion urged all to work for the protection of their surrounding environment, mentioning that the main theme of this year’s environment day is ‘Only One Earth’. World Environment Day was observed across the world including Bangladesh on 5 June.

During the event, Atiqul Islam, mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) said, mega disasters like the climate change are increasing due to extensive destruction of the environment. Nature is taking its revenge.

He added people are becoming homeless because of storms and tidal surges in the coastal areas. Around 2,000 people are coming to Dhaka every day from these areas. And arrangements for their residence, sanitation and employment have to be made. This extra pressure of people is ruining the environment and nature in the capital.

Mayor Atiqul said, “We are fighting against two issues, one is occupation and the other is pollution.” Giving examples of the capital’s rivers and canals he said, there should have been fish farming on in these, instead these are breeding mosquitoes.

Alongside the government agencies, every citizen has to play a role in preventing pollution. The environment of the capital will improve a lot if everyone throws out the wastes, produced in their homes, after refining it themselves.

Yasir Azman, chief executive officer (CEO) of Grameenphone said, “We have to leave a beautiful world behind for our next generation. And we have to start working towards that goal from now.”

Mentioning that a major part of the 17 million people living in the country use a cell phones, he said that all of them switch SIM cards in an interval of several years. It these cards get mixed in the soil, it will be disastrous for the nature. So, Grameenphone has taken an initiative of launching e-SIM or SIM-less connection.

Yasir Azman mentioned that Grameenphone has taken up a plan to reduce carbon emissions caused by their activities. By the year 2030, they will cut down their carbon emission by 50 per cent in comparison to 2019. They have already reduced their carbon emission by 6.8 per cent within 2021.

Yasir Azman also cited the ways in which they decreased their carbon emission. He said, “We have reduced carbon emission by replacing our diesel-powered generators with imported high-end batteries. However, once the batteries expire they pollute soil and environment. So, we have recycled 80 thousand batteries across the country up until now.”

Mujibur Rahman, former professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) said, Dhaka’s environment is degrading steadily. Dhaka often tops or remains in the second position of the list of cities with the most polluted air across the globe.

Nowadays, a new type of pollutant, hydrocarbon, is being noticed in the air of Dhaka city. Microscopic plastic particles have been found in the water of Shitalakshya River after testing. These particles are entering the human bodies via fish and other living beings, he added.

Mentioning that Dhaka’s environment is getting polluted because of unplanned development, housing construction and establishment of industrial factories, professor Mujibur Rahman further said, rising above this crisis is difficult but possible.

Sheikh Bashir Uddin, managing director of Akij group said, “No matter how big of an industry we own, we’ll have to live in this very city. Our next generation will also grow up here. But, what difference will it make for us to be big industrialists, if the city becomes inhabitable.”

He added, “We always keep the level of pollution at all of our industrial factories including the cement and tiles factories, below the government approved standards of air and water pollution. In future we’ll use such technologies, which will allow us to recycle the wastes produced during production in the factories.”

Entrepreneur Nawshin Khair, managing director of Aranya Crafts, said, “We don’t have the necessary data about which sectors in our country are emitting carbon and to what degree. So, it is not being possible to calculate who will take responsibility to what extent in curbing carbon emission.”

While speaking as the moderator, Matiur Rahman, editor of Prothom Alo emphasised the need for proper implementation of the law and awareness in saving the country’s environment.

He said, Prothom Alo has been highlighting the issue of environment and forestland protection along with climate change since the beginning. Prothom Alo will keep playing a crucial role on this issue in the coming days. It is possible to keep the world livable through the united efforts of all.