May 25, 2013 | 08:25 AM (BD Time)
25 May, 2013 Saturday
Minimise environmental consequences of development
Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque and Md. Arifur Rahman :
We the conscious citizens ponder over the matter like environment protection against the background of modernisation which has now become an anathema going against the concept of environment friendly development. Some among us are preparing columns. We are frustrated to see that all such exercise is nothing but beating the air. It has little positive impact on the developers practicing development without any qualm of conscience destructing natural resource at large.
It is axiomatic that modernisation procees in developing countries comes in conflict with human rights causing wanton exploitation of environmental resources. Most development/modernisation projects create 'some risks of legally cognizable harms to 'to the people of the projects areas. The victims of the project coming in contact with NGOs as human right groups agonise over construction of large dams or installation of technical establishment for the exploitation of mineral resources like coal. Environmental consequence of large scale dams may spell disaster far beyond the comprehension of project policy makers. 'Ecological changes in downstream areas often cause loss of water resources and arable land to farmers. Modernisation of agriculture with the installation of deep tube well in command areas has been proved to be non-ecological harming the local especially the poor.
Construction of any mega project like Dam is most likely to have adverse impacts particularly on downstream. It is logically argued that reservoir impoundment designed on annual inflow from the catchments will create crisis affecting the channels of downstream. Extremely low flow during the lean period will result in desertification, draught or near draught adversely affecting 'irrigation, agriculture and navigation causing 'deposition of rudiment for slack water' and overflow during monsoon 'with spillway release' will cause inundation submerging even high lands. More extreme climate will be a looming threat to our economy and environment.
One can hardly find any wrong with the overarching concern of the opposition and environmentalists in human rights groups as a striking note over Tipai issue. At times crying wolf over the matter in an attempt to capitalize on it needs to be avoided. There is no need playing blame game targeting the government. Better the government takes up the issue in a right earnest. It is not expected to mince matter.
There is an apprehension that that construction of Tipai Mukh barrage will spell disaster not only for Bangladesh but also for Indian localities near the Dam. The Indian locality is reportedly apprehensive of the adverse impact of Tipai Dam on ecology. Ecological balance will be highly impaired.
Public policy on substantive areas of modernisation project contemplates some desirable changes. Nevertheless policy outcomes resulting from lack of governance in the implementation of the projected goals under a variety of policy sectors and sub-sectors militate against sustainable development.
Increasing alienation of the deprived class is the outcome of the introduction or continuation of programmes under such policy frame work. Social protests in favour of backward community are the culmination of perpetual deprivation and negligence. Many a time the movements of the victims of state policy become raison d 'etre for open confrontation.
More often than not such movements pose a threat to peace and tranquility when protestants think that physical pollutions, deforestation, installation of buildings and plants, brickfield and other form of environmental terrorism threaten to displace/dislodge the original inhabitants.
Backwardness and wanton exploitation of the deprived class is a motivating factor for a series of protestant movements. They create social tension and political instability. For, policy intervention reflects lack of' a coherent plan, purpose and direction'.
However, recent tribal scenario was the expression of perpetual tension. Slow or delayed implementation of CHT peace treaty aggravated such tension rather than alleviated it.
Structural tension is a common feature of complicated social life. It is expressed quite through conflict latent or manifest. Uneven development affects stable equilibrium and thereby strengthens such tension. Heart burning and frustration among the disgruntled groups in electoral constituencies is a continuing process as the bottom end of distribution profile is caught up by deprivation trap.
Outcome of development policy is likely to produce manifold contra-indications thus providing a background of confrontation. Catastrophic human problems, labour exploitation and vulnerability of women and children are the predicaments of contemporary Bangladesh.
Now industrialisation, construction of buildings and establishments and other projects/sub-projects of modernisation create a background of global warming to cause potential climate change. There are global concerns about reduction of greenhouse gas and the mitigation of its effects. The coastal environment in Small Island and other vulnerable countries in particular is in limbo. It is well established that 'unscrupulous exploitation of natural resources' in the pursuit of modernization and material development is bound to produce concomitant repercussion.
Now green activists, mostly human right focused civil societies, like Save Environment Movement, Buringanga Baccho, try to draw the attention of the concerned authorities to take initiatives to to enforce exiting environmental laws to protect our water and river resources. . They claim that encroachment of the canal and filling up those by developers are the main reasons behind water crisis and water logging in the sprawling urban areas. Recently Sampan Khela and Chatgaiya Sanskriti Mela vow to save river Karnophuli.
The effects of anti-developmental activities of modernization tend to affect the poor causing them to migrate elsewhere. In fact climate displacement has been on increase. The situation in Bangladesh reveals that the problem of climate displacement is a present. One signaling future uncertainties. The government of Bangladesh and that of other poor countries have been urged upon to take heed of the climate displacement nightmare unfolding to add to humanitarian crisis.
All local government bodies at the grassroots and extension agencies have been directed to make best use of the funds that may be placed at their disposals. Local bureaucracies as implementing agencies must be sensitised to make best use of the fund keeping an arm's length from fuzzy governance. Role of NGOs in sensitising the officials and local leaders and awareness building involving community stakeholders is no of less significance.
(Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque, Professor of Public Administration, Chittagong University and Md. Arifur Rahman, Chief Executive YPSA, Chittagong) (This is on the occasion of environment Day)
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