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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Bangladesh

Bangladesh’s constitution contains provisions for the protection of the environment. Section 18A of the constitution states that 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 major legislation which addresses environmental concerns in Bangladesh is The Environment Conservation Act. The legislation serves as a framework for the activities of the Department of the Environment.

Featured Legislation

1927: The Forest Act was passed, regulating the transit of forest produce. The legislation also envisions the creation of village forests, an effective way of ensuring people’s participation and community rights in the fight for environmental justice.

1970: The Water Pollution Control Ordinance was passed, preventing water pollution through the implementation of key policies.

1977: The Environmental Pollution Control Ordinance was issued, extending the control, prevention and abatement of pollution to the entire environment of Bangladesh.

1992: The National Environmental Policy was established, providing protection and sustainable management of the environment.

1995: Bangladesh Environment Protection Act was introduced. This Act provides for the protection of the environment, the improvement of the environmental standard and the control and abatement of the pollution of the environment. The Government shall establish the Department of Environment, the head of which shall be the Director General whose powers and duties are listed in section 4. The Government may declare an area to be an ecologically critical area. Where the discharge of an environmental pollutant in excess of the limit prescribed by rules occurs

1995: The National Environmental Management Plan was developed as a framework of programmers and interventions aimed at implementing National Environmental Policy.

2009: The Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan was tabled. This Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan 2009 (BCCSAP 2009), as a cross-sectoral policy document, is a 10-year framework(2009-2018). The Government's vision on management of climate change is an integral part of its Vision 2021, which is to eradicate poverty, increase employment opportunities, ensure food security, provide access to energy and power, and achieve economic and social well-being of all citizens of the country. To achieve this goal, the climate change strategy of pro-poor, climate resilient and low carbon development is set out. The Action Plan comprises 44 immediate, short, medium and long-term programmes based upon six pillars: 1. Food security, social protection and health; 2. Comprehensive disaster management; 3. Infrastructure; 4. Research and knowledge management; 5. Mitigation and low carbon development; 6. Capacity building and institutional.

2010: The Environment Court Act was signed into force, empowering the Director General of the Department of the Environment to investigate instances of environmental harm.

2012: Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act was approved. This Act, consisting of 54 sections divided into ten Chapters, establishes the Wildlife Conservation and Security Basic Legislation. The Government shall, by notification in the official Gazette, constitute a Board to be called the Wildlife Advisory Board consisting of a Chairman and necessary number of members from among the persons with expertise in conservation of biodiversity, forests and wildlife. The duties and functions of the Board constituted under sub-section (1) shall be as follows, namely: a) to review and provide directives in the matter of conservation, development and management of biodiversity, wildlife and forests; b) to review the activities on conservation, development and management of biodiversity, wildlife and forests and to provide necessary directives; c) to prepare incentive scheme for increasing awareness among people for the conservation of biodiversity, wildlife and forests; d) to approve any proposal submitted to the Government for constitution of technical any other committee, for carrying out the purposes of this Act; e) to approve the annual report with recommendations submitted to the Government.

2013: The Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kilns Establishment (Control) Act was approved, outlining prohibitions regarding the use of raw materials from sources such as agricultural land, hill or hillock and the use of wood as fuel.

2017: The Bangladesh Biodiversity Act was created, regulating who may have access to biological resources and traditional knowledge and how said resources and knowledge may be lawfully transferred. The legislation also delegates certain duties of the National Biodiversity Committee.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • Illegal felling, poaching and encroachment on forestland is rampant in Bangladesh, calling upon the government to enforce environmental legislation. Illegal logging includes the removal of any timber or creating fresh clearing inside the forest. A 2019 editorial reveals that gangs and locals violate many environmental laws, cutting down forest trees, and collecting fuelwood for sale. In 2017: Approximately 416 cft (cubic foot) of illegal logs was discovered by the Coastguard of West Zone. Communities and government officials have begun to engage in campaigns of “social forestry” in an attempt to reduce the dependency of people on adjacent forest resources.
  • A 2019 Report revealed that 3,000 – 3,500 tonnes of solid waste is generated in Dhaka city per day. These numbers serve as a reminder of how pervasive pollution is in the county; in 2015, Bangladesh recorded 234, 000 deaths due to environmental pollution, making it one of the worst impacted countries in the world. Activists are calling upon government to combat what they refer to as “crimes against soil”, the basic element of nutrition of all living organisms in the country’s ecological systems.

References and Further Reading

Contacts

Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF): Deputy Secretary, dsenv1@moef.gov.bd