Bangladesh State of Environment Report: The Monthly Overview, October, 2013

Environment and forests minister Hasan Mahmud slammed Transparency International, Bangladesh for its recent investigation report on the government’s climate change trust fund utilization. Read more in this October 2013 edition of the Monthly Bangladesh State of the Environment Report published by the South Asia Environment Portal. Read and Share. ENVIRONMENT Environment and forests minister Hasan Mahmud slammed Transparency International, Bangladesh for its recent investigation report on the government’s climate change trust fund utilization. LAND, AGRICULTURE, GRAZING LANDS AND ANIMAL CARE The Supreme Court cleared the way for the Bangladesh government to release the genetically modified (GM) crop, Bt Brinjal, in the country. Cultivation of BRRI Dhan 33, a high yielding and short duration variety of paddy in the northern region of Bangladesh, has shown immense potential in addressing food security. The Bangladesh government has fixed an all-time record target of producing 1.28 million tonnes of wheat from 0.42 million hectares land during the current Rabi season throughout the country, officials sources said. An extensive plan has been taken up by the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Bangladesh to cultivate winter vegetables in all the seven upazilas in Gaibandha district during the current season. Commercial cultivation of orange is gaining popularity at different upazilas under Panchagarh district in Bangladesh, as the growers are making handsome profit by selling their products. Huge pest attack has been jeopardizing Aman cultivation at five upazilas of Thakurgaon district in Bangladesh, causing panic among the farmers about the production of the paddy during the current season. Standing Aman plants on vast tracts of lands have severely been attacked by pest at different upazilas in Thakurgaon district of Bangladesh, making the farmers apprehensive about the output of the paddy in this season. WATER RESOURCES AND FISHERIES Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters Association (BFFEA) and three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) will work for the development of the shrimp sector mainly to increase production of Black Tiger shrimp and improve quality. DAMS A three-member search committee has been formed to look for a capable chairman and four members for forming the National River Protection Commission in Bangladesh as per the guideline of National River Protection Commission Law 2013. Dhaka and New Delhi are likely to begin high-level talks in November on possibilities of producing hydro-electricity in the Indian state of of Arunachal by a joint investment and power transmission to India’s other parts through Bangladesh giving some electricity to this country, officials said. Bangladesh is trying to hold a bilateral meeting with India on November 7 in this regard, they said. FORESTS Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited is observing Tree Plantation Program 2013 across the country. The Bank has taken initiative to distribute 6 lac 50 thousand saplings of indigenous fruits variety of tree though its 208 RDS affiliated Branches under its Rural Development Scheme during this rainy season. POLLUTION Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association (BFLLGFEA) plans to sign an agreement soon with the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) as part of the shifting process of Hazaribagh's tannery industries to Savar. Green activists urged the authorities concerned not to pay any compensation to the tannery owners in Bangladesh, instead made a call to realize Tk 24 billion as compensation for damage they did to the environment. FLOODS, DROUGHTS AND NATURAL DISASTERS The massive and unabated erosion in the river Padma has been posing a serious threat to Rajshahi city protection embankment in Bangladesh, officials and others concerned here said. Two children were injured and 100 houses damaged as a tornado hit four villages under Bholahat and Nochole upazilas in Chapainawabganj district of Bangladesh. A tornado swept two upazilas of Faridpur district in Bangladesh, leaving a trail of devastation at 33 villages under six unions. A total of two thousand six hundred fifty (2650) hectares land of standing Aman crops and three hundred hectares of vegetables worth about Tk 25 million were damaged following an incessant and heavy downpour for last one week in the current month in 5 upazilas of Khulna district including Khulna City Corporation area, Agriculture Extension Department (DAE) sources said. . HABITAT Around 44 per cent people of the capital in Bangladesh, do not have formal or informal housing facilities which is very alarming, experts said. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate and lay the foundation stones of five infrastructure development projects, including the metro rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) for the capital, from Gazipur. Recently the Dhaka Metropolitan Police declared eight more roads off-limits to rickshaws in addition to the 13 roads earlier closed to such non-motorised transports. WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION According to media reports, the demand for fresh water in Dhaka city is about 2.25 billion liters per day and against it some 1.9 billion liters can be actually supplied. The Bangladesh government will set up a new treatment plant at Munshiganj to purify water of the Padma river and supply 450 million litres of water per day (MLD) to Dhaka city where the Water and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) is currently providing 2,000 MLD against a demand of 2,200 MLD. Huge garbage including that from sacrificial animals is being dumped into the Puratan Brahmaputra River at Puran Godaraghat, adding to serious pollution of the already dying river. Bangladesh has identified urban slums, floating people and coastal areas as the major hurdles for achieving ‘total sanitation by 2013’. PEOPLE IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has launched a Better Work programme to improve working conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers and promote competitiveness in the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh. HEALTH AND OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS The number of patients admitted to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B) significantly increased in two weeks, staying above 500 on most days. About 14 lakh children under five years of age were fed vitamin 'A' Plus capsules in Chittagong city and district on the occasion of National Vitamin 'A' plus campaign on October 5. Officials of Dhaka University and United Nations Children’s Fund, Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding with a view to promoting health and nutrition, child protection, water, sanitation and hygiene education and research in the country. INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENTS At least nine people died in a fire that broke out in four buildings of a knitwear factory at Sripur in Gazipur of Bangladesh, officials said. HAZARDOUS PRODUCTS Thousands of residents at Hazaribagh in Dhaka city are facing severe sufferings due to unhygienic environment because of hundreds of toxic chemical shops there. There are about 800 chemical shops to meet the demand of chemical of around 194 tanneries in the area. Many residents have reportedly been affected with chemical related diseases, including asthma. ENERGY The Bangladesh government has given approval to set up eight new power plants with a total generation capacity of 2,706 mw. The High Court summarily rejected a writ petition that had sought to halt the foundation stone laying of Rampal power plant project near the Sundarbans forest until an assessment of the environmental impact of the project was conducted. A total of 57 new power plants have been commissioned in Bangladesh from January 2009 to October 2013 with a total generation capacity of 4,432 megawatt. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Bangladesh signed a loan agreement for $12 million in additional financing for a cross-border electricity initiative between Bangladesh and India. Prime Minister's adviser on energy issues Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said that around US$ 8 billion has been invested in the power sector of Bangladesh over the last five years to build new power plants and generate additional electricity. Bangladesh embarked on a nuclear power programme as the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, inaugurated the first phase work of the much-awaited Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project in Pabna. Environment and Forest Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud said the Bangladesh government plans to meet 10 per cent of total electricity demand of the country from renewable sources. The Bangladesh government is likely to allow a private consortium to set up and operate a three-megawatt solar power plant at Sharishabari in Jamalpur to supply electricity to the national grid. An Indian company, appointed by the Power Development Board in Bangladesh, has found little potential for tapping wind power for electricity generation at two important locations alongside the sea shore, officials said. LIVING RESOURCES More than a thousand field workers are using 89 cameras for trapping to count the total tiger population in the Bangladesh part of the world's largest mangrove forest. This is for the first time in the history of the Sundarbans that census of Bengal Tiger population and its monitoring is being done through camera trapped instead of pugmarks (footprints) method. Funded by the World Bank under "Strengthening Regional Co-operation for Wildlife Protection Project" this will continue until June in 2014. An initiative was launched to enhance the bird population and protect biodiversity by Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) by building a hut on top of a tree at Jhum restaurant at Wagga under Kaptai upazila of the district to save the endangered birds.

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