Saturday, 22 January, 2022

Ineffective DoE: A dirty picture

Industries in residential areas are usually prohibited in most countries. In Bangladesh, regulations are in place to ensure that buildings in planned residential areas are not used for industrial or commercial purposes. But as most of our cities developed historically over the centuries, they grew in an unplanned manner, having all kinds of buildings – residential, commercial, and industrial, etc. in close proximity within the cities.

Thus, most of our cities have little or no demarcation between residential, commercial or industrial usage areas, creating a jigsaw puzzle of thriving industries, factories and marketplaces existing beside residential buildings and schools. Perhaps due to that, a TIB survey has found 72 per cent industries in Bangladesh to be in residential areas.

Having industries or bustling commercial areas in nearby places where people live, children go to schools or even where there are children’s playgrounds, may result in an unhealthy and polluted environment harmful to the health of all, particularly the children and elderly of the society.

Growth of population requires more of everything needed by man, from houses to commodities, etc. More variety of industries develops to meet the requirements of a huge growing population. But whatever irregularities have happened in the past, we must discontinue those as soon as possible for the sake of the health and development of our future generation. It may not be possible to relocate all the industries from the residential areas, but they should be regulated strictly to ensure minimum harm to the people living nearby. New industries must be made in areas designated for industrial purposes.

Efforts must be undertaken to save from further deterioration of the environment of the highly populated Dhaka city, considered one of the most polluted capitals of the world. But whom to entrust with that responsibility? The Department of Environment (DoE) has so far failed to take any effective measures against the rising air pollution of Dhaka. In fact the DoE, which is supposed to save us from further pollution, does not have any list of polluting industries and are giving environmental clearances to those existing in residential areas in exchange for bribes. Now the situation is so grim that insisting on strict responsibility may only succeed in raising the bribe amount of DoE, rather than getting our desired goal of a cleaner environment. Therefore, an effective end to ineffective DoE is an urgent call of time.