Wednesday, 26 January, 2022

Most industries in residential areas get DoE clearances illegally

Finds a TIB study which has exposed transactions of bribes and abuse of power

  • Staff Correspondent
  • 6 January, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Seventy-two percent of industries in Bangladesh have been set up in residential areas in a gross violation of law, a new study found.

The industries secured environmental clearances through abusing power and illegal transaction of money, it said.

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) conducted thestudy tiled “Governance challenges of the Department of Environment and way forward”.

The study was unveiled on Wednesday.

The graft watchdog found that there were illegal financial transactions in 66 percent cases of getting environmental clearance certificate (ECC) from the DoE to set up industries.

The amount of bribe ranged from Tk 36,000 to maximum Tk 1,08,800.  

There were allegations of collusion between middlemen and some officials for granting environmental clearance upon receipt of a portion of the illegal transaction.

According to the survey, there are allegations of irregularities against 51 percent factories in receiving environmental clearances.

The irregularities include late delivery of ECC, complex ECC application procedure and demanding of bribes in getting ECC.

Besides, 51 percent of the surveyed industries are operating with expired ECCs.

Of them, 70 percent did not apply for renewal until the time of data collection. For getting theECC from the DoE, all industrial units must submit “no objection certificate” obtained from the local authorities.

However, 17 percent of the industries included in the survey received clearances from the DoE despite not getting “no objection certificate” from the local authorities.

It is mandatory to submit Environmental Management Plan (EMP) at the time of applying for environmental clearance for Orange B and Red category industrial units.

However, 56 percent of the industries included in the survey received environmental clearance without any EMP.

The survey was conducted during April 2019 to December 2021.

The findings were presented at a virtual press conference by TIB research fellow Newazul Mowla.

The DoE does not have any list of polluting industries.

As such, there is no accurate figure or estimates onfines, penalties, and confiscations to ensureimplementation of the “polluters pay” principle.

During 2017-18 to 2020-21, only Tk 707.7 million of the compensation money has been collected through fines, penalties and confiscation.

This is negligible compared to the amount of environmental damage caused by the pollution in Bangladesh in the last four years, TIB says. 

On the other hand, through appeals,the polluting industries were exempted from a large amount of the imposedfines.

The total number of cases in the mobile court was 8,756.

There are allegations that the DoE is more interested in collecting fines through mobile courts instead of filing lawsuits in environmental courts against the polluters.

Apart from the cases filed under the Environmental Protection Act, a large number of criminal lawsuits were filed with the environmental courts.

The total number of cases in the three environmental courts of the country from 2015 to 2020 is 7,002.

Of them, the number of cases filed under the Environmental Protection Act is only 388, which is 5 percent of the total cases.

Heavy industries and factories, including coal-based power plants, continue to be set up near the environmentally critical areas.

The DoE did not take any effective measure to protect the environmentally critical areas of the Sundarbans and the Irabati dolphin sanctuary that are 4 km and 2.5 km away respectively from the Rampal Power Plant, TIB said.

Although Dhaka city is at the top level on the list of polluted capitals, the DoE failed to take effective measures to stop air pollution, it added.