Environmental Law in Bangladesh

In the relation to Environment, ownership of natural resources matters and how those resources used has a direct connection to the environment. In this regard, Bangladesh inherited a colonial legal structure that promoted feudal ownership but in 1950 this system come to an end, the ‘estates’ were acquired by the State. On the other hand, the concept of ‘ownership’ remained unfettered; resources that are not privately owned are vested and managed by the government agencies, unfortunately, public agencies became feudal over the management of public resources not being concern about the Environment or about the sustainable development. The power in the seat was no better than the colonial rulers were all were interested to harness maximum economic use both of private and national benefit.

In 1960 some concerned group take notice have environmental change and realise the sufferings and consequence, public awareness began to grow, more people come to know about the Idea of environmental law. Due to different kinds of pollution and considering public concern a National Mechanism was set up, Afterwards during 1990 some NGO’s were working to addressing the issues of environment, besides that some forerunners of this process such as Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association and Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon with their judicial and extrajudicial activism and by the actions and remedies provided by the judiciary being able to set a standard of Environmental Law in Bangladesh.

Here is a summary of the present condition Environmental Law in Bangladesh.

Sources:

  1. Constitution (18 A, 31, 32)
  2. Statutory laws and bylaws Gazette notifications issued under laws Judicial interpretation of laws Customs, traditional perceptions, practices (Forest Act) & Sectoral laws
  3. International laws (Conventions, Protocols)
  4. Convention on Biological Diversity; Nagoya Protocol, Cartagena Protocol
  5. UNFCCC; Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement
  6. UN Convention on Non-navigational Uses on International Waters
  7. Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes
  8. Vienna Convention on Ozone Layer Depletion, Montreal Protocol

Sectoral laws On Pollution and Conservation. Health. Food and Consumer Protection. Occupational Rights and Safety. Public Safety and Dangerous Substance. Displacement, Relief and Rehabilitation. Land Use, Administration and Management. Agriculture and Agro-Chemicals. Water Resources. Fishery. Forestry. Biodiversity. Wildlife and Domestic Animal. Energy and Mineral Resources. Local Government Laws. Rural and Urban Planning and Protection. Transportation and Safety. Cultural and Natural Heritage. Vulnerable Group And more.

Some Provision I can’t avoid to mention for their importance.
18 A. Bangladesh Constitution. 
Protection and improvement of environment and biodiversity The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to preserve and safeguard the natural resources, biodiversity, wetlands, forests and wildlife for the present and future citizens. — The Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Act, 2011

Environment Conservation Act, 1995
[Objectives: conservation, improvement of standards, pollution control and mitigation. Establishment of DoE: Powers of DG, Authorities of MoEF also Requires protection of eco-systems (norms, values, principles missing) Seeks to regulate industrial, vehicular and noise pollution and pollution of air, water, soil (monitoring mechanism) Standards under the Environment Conservation Rules, 1997 have been set to check pollution of Air Water, Sound, Odor]

Section 5: Declaration of Ecologically Critical Area (ECA)
If the Government is satisfied that due to degradation of environment the eco-system of any area has reached or is threatened to reach a critical state, it may, by notification in the official Gazette, declare such area as ECA.

The government shall specify, through notification, which of the operations or processes cannot be initiated or continued in the ECA. [so far 13 such areas has been declared as ECAs ]

Section 12: Environmental Clearances
No new projects/industries can set up without EC, Existing projects/industries must obtain EC immediately. Rules to provide for the preparation of EIA reports, EMP reports, public scrutiny/consultation, availability of information regarding all these, formation and working procedure of clearance committee, minimum prerequisites for clearances, appeal etc.

Sections 15a and 17: Affected people/DG may file compensation suits/cases in the Environment Court on behalf of affected people.

Environment Conservation Rules, 1997

Rule 3: Factors to be taken into consideration while declaring any area as ECA (human habitat, ancient monument, archaeological site, forest sanctuary, national park, game reserve, wild animals and their habitat, wetland, mangrove, forest area, bio-diversity)
Rule 7: Classification of industries as GREEN, ORANGE-A, ORANGE-B and RED in consideration of their location and impact on environment
Rule 12: Environmental standards for air, water, sound, odour and other components.

Environment Court Act, 2010

Objective: Speed up justice against environmental offences, Setting up, jurisdiction and working module of Environmental Courts (sections 4, 7, 14). Setting up, jurisdiction and working module of Special Magistrate Courts (sections 5, 6, 9, 10). Investigation into Environmental Offences (section 12) Settlement of Disputes (section 18) etc.

At present, there are about 210 laws relating to environment and over 30 policies, strategies and action plan pertinent to environmental administration. thought the loophole made them quite tough to implement moreover power and politics always comes in to play.

* Took Help from Syeda Rezwana Hasan mam’s class lecture (BELA) and note and Book Environmental Law: Global and Bangladesh Context by Abdullah Al Faruque.

Rayhanul Islam

The author is an original thinker; often challenges the regular rule of conduct considering various perspective on the basis of scientific reasoning to ensure the peace and prosperity of the society. He works as freelancer advocate and promotes legal knowledge and human right concept to the root level. The author is also a tech enthusiast and web developer, he loves psychology as well.

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