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Md. Hasibur Rahman


Natural Resources Conservation and Sustainable Development in Bangladesh


IMPACTS OF AIR POLLUTION ON HUMAN HEALTH IN BANGLADESH


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Natural Resources Conservation and Sustainable Development in Bangladesh


Md. Hasibur Rahman
Executive Director
Environment and Agricultural Development Studies Center
Bangladesh
E-mail: icms@bdcom.com

ABSTRACT

Bangladesh occupies an area of 147570 square kilometers between latitudes 20034/ and 26038/ N and longitudes 88001/ and 92041/ E. The country is bounded to the west, north and east by India and to the extreme south-east by Myanmar. The Bay of Bengal lies to the south. Almost the entire area of Bangladesh is still an active delta formed by three major rivers are the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated country of the world. The total population is estimated to have been 124 million in January, 1997 and growing at a rate of 2.17 per cent. Average population density is about 800 per square kilometer. Bangladesh is a developing country, where the per capita income is only about US$250. The population is overwhelmingly rural (80 per cent) and engaged in various agricultural activities. It is estimated that 9.25 million hectares (ha) or 64.2% of the land area is cultivable.

Agriculture is the major economic activity of Bangladesh accounting for the majority of GDP (32.4% in 1996-97). An estimated 2.56 million ha (17.8%) of the total land of the country is under forest. The Government owns (classified & unclassified) forests i.e. 2.22 million ha & the rest 0.34 million ha is owned privately. In the past widespread destruction, unplanned extraction, clearing of forest land for agriculture etc. have reduced the forest coverage to about 8% as against minimum requirement of Bangladesh is to way a number of environmental problems.

Sustainable development is the development in relation with the conservation of natural resources and providing for economic growth that meets the needs of the present and future generation. In Bangladesh where development and conservation of natural resources is under pressure from rapid increasing of population, unplanned urbanization and industrialization, illiteracy, poverty, etc., all are leading to degradation of environment and ecosystem. On the other hand country is suffering from devastating natural disasters, such as cyclone, intrusion of saline water, storm and floods. The topic of cancer passes through the middle of Bangladesh, the country falls in the tropical region. Cyclone, tidal-surge and flood comes every year and destroyed natural resources including wildlife, biodiversity, settlement and human lives. Natural disasters are beyond of control but the adverse effects of human activities that are causing global warming could be minimized.

Natural resources management, stakeholder participation and sustainable development are interrelated. Sustainable development is a process which will start with situational analysis including problems identification, prioritization followed by policy making, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In many cases, problems identification and its ranking or future planning is not done by involving participatory approach. It is evident that the stakeholder problems or root-causes of threats that depletes natural resources are remains behind the consideration. More importantly in the field of development in general or in agricultural, particularly a few common approaches are considered for planing that is far from fully participatory approach. Coordination of national planner/policy maker and stakeholder participatory approaches is needed to input in the field of any development. As because the local stakeholders are important components who are exploiting natural resources and also they can conserve the same for better environment.

It is an urgent need to take necessary measures in order to control and minimize the adverse effect of human activities. And to ensure conservation of natural resources and planned urbanization, industrialization, sustainable agricultural development etc. are the main components. Proper implementation of environment friendly and sustainable development policy is most important along with a pragmatic implementation strategy.

Recommendations and policy implementation regarding mitigative measures in order to conservation of natural resources and balanced development is needed to the national as well as to the global context.

Key Words: Natural Resources Conservation, Sustainable Development and Environment

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Bangladesh occupies an area of 147570 square kilometers between latitudes 20034/ and 26038/ N and longitudes 88001/ and 92041/ E. The country is bounded to the west, north and east by India and to the extreme south-east by Myanmar. The Bay of Bengal lies to the south. Almost the entire areas of Bangladesh lies in the still active delta formed by three major rivers are the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna, which flow into Bangladesh from the west, north and north-east. Bangladesh is a relatively flat country with its highest peak at only 1200m. In fact, 90 per cent of the land is fertile alluvial plain. On the basis of formation, three principal physiographic units are recognized as the tertiary hills (part of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Chittagong, and Sylhet districts), the Pleistocene terrace (Madhupur Tract, Vhawal Tract and Lalmai in the middle and Barind Tract on the north of the country) and the recent alluvial plain (rest of the country).

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated country of the world. The total population is estimated to have been 124 million in January, 1997 and growing at a rate of 2.17 per cent. Average population density is about 800 per square kilometer. Bangladesh is a developing country, where the per capita income is only about US$250. The population is overwhelmingly rural (80 per cent) are engaged in various agricultural activities.

In the past, dense natural tropical moist evergreen and semi-evergreen forests occupied nearly all of the limited hilly lands of the country. But at present, tropical moist evergreen and semi-evergreen forests occupy only 0.59 million hectares of the hilly land on the northern and eastern boundaries of Bangladesh. Yet, these are the most important forest resource of the country from the economic, productive, aesthetic, environmental point of view. At present, it becomes evident that faulty forest management practices, encroachment, overexploitation, unplanned conversion of forest, shifting cultivation, and repeated natural calamities like cyclone, flood etc. are the root causes of deforestation and degradation of natural tropical moist evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of the country.

Environmental pollution occurring due to rapid industrialization particularly in the sectors of leather, pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals, etc. The country has about 30000 industrial units out of which only 6000 are large industries and the rests are cottage industries. Most of the mills and factories of Bangladesh are located along with the river bank of Dhaka, Narayangong, Tongi, Chittagong and Khulna. However, most of these industries have been set up in such a way that it is becoming a great concern to environmental issues because of the fact that most of these industries are discharging and dumping the wastes and effluents without treatment into the nearby water bodies including rivers, canals, drainage systems etc. which are polluting soil, water and air seriously. Already 1200 industrial units have already been identified as major polluting indutries (DOE, 1997).

Two major cities of Bangladesh are the capital, Dhaka with a population of 6.84 million and the port city Chittagong with a population of approximately 2.35 million in 1991. Both cities are known as industrial associated city. The other important cities are Khulna, Rajshahi in the north and Sylhet in the north-east.

As a consequence of the rapidly growing population, there exist energy deficits, resource shortages and tremendous pressure to use forestland for agriculture, human settlement and other infrastructural related purposes. All these causing deforestation and environmental degradation at an alarming rate. According to FAO (1981), annual deforestation in Bangladesh is estimated at 8000 hectare. Urban settlements face difficulty in meeting the demand of energy and disposal of domestic wastes.

Use of pesticide grew rapidly in early 1970s following the introduction of chemical fertilizers for modern rice varieties. The residual effect of pesticides and chemical fertilizers are contaminated ground and surface water, causing downstream users health problem and damaging inland fisheries, soil friendly micro-organisms. The country's 75 per cent of the 9.25 million hectors of farming land has lost fertility mainly because of overuse of chemical fertilizer (Reports BSS). Now-a-days, about 7000 MT of pesticides is being used in agriculture field. Assuming that about 25% of the used pesticides drain off into open water bodies through rainfall and floods, the aquatic environment obviously gets polluted. This pollution may cause sudden death of fishes and other aquatic organisms. It can also hamper growth of aquatic biodiversity including fish by disrupting feeding, immunity and reproduction. As most of the farmers of our country are illiterate they are not aware of the toxic effects of pesticides on environment. The pesticides residual effects changes the physico-chemical parameters of water and effects on human health through food chain cycle.

All these events are alarming to the conservation of natural resources and sustainable use of biological resources. So it needs a high degree of attention to assess the present status of biodiversity, identify endangered species and adopt measures for ex-situ and in-situ conservation of biodiversity integrated with forest management practices in the tropical moist evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of the country.

Sustainable development is the development in relation with the conservation of natural resources and providing for economic growth that meets the needs of the present and future generation. In Bangladesh where development and conservation of natural resources is under pressure from rapid increasing of population, unplanned urbanization and industrialization, illiteracy, poverty, etc., all are leading to degradation of environment and ecosystem. On the other hand country is suffering from devastating natural disasters, such as cyclone, intrusion of saline water, storm and floods. Bangladesh is a country the name has become associated with natural disasters. Cyclone, tidal-surge and flood comes every year and destroyed natural resources including wildlife, biodiversity, settlement and human. Natural disasters are beyond of control but the adverse effects of human activities that are causing global warming could be minimized.

2.0 MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES RELATED TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN BANGLADESH

2.1 Climate:

The Tropic of Cancer passes through the middle of Bangladesh, the country falls in the tropical region. But due to monsoon and proximity to the Bay of Bengal, temperature is moderate. There are three distinct climatic seasons in Bangladesh. The monsoon from July to October experiences more than 80 per cent of the total annual rainfall. It is characterized by high temperature, high humidity and low solar radiation. The dry, winter season from November to February receives negligible rainfall and is characterized by low temperature, low humidity and high solar radiation. The pre-monsoon summer from March to June receives some rainfall is occasional heavy thundershowers and hailstorms and is characterized by highest temperature and evaporation rates. Cyclones coming from the Bay of Bengal followed by tidal waves occasionally affect the coastal areas during the pre and post-monsoon transition seasons.

Temperature in Bangladesh ranges between 100C and 400C. It peaks during April and reaches the lowest level in January. Winter temperature average maximum 290C and minimum 110C. Summer temperature average maximum 340C and minimum 210C. Rainfall distribution patterns are uneven and erratic. Average annual rainfall varies from a maximum of about 5000mm in the north-east corner of the country to a minimum of about 1200mm in the extreme west. The critical aspects of rainfall in relation to the use of land resource for cropping relate to the uncertainty of the onset and departure of the monsoon as well as the total amount of rain in a year. Rainfall variability is high in the western part of the country-averaging 17.5 percent in comparison to less than 5 percent in the northeast and southeast. This variability is one of the important determinants of making the western region a drought-prone area.

2.2 Population Density and Growth:

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated country of the world. The total population is estimated to have been 124 million in January, 1997 and growing at a rate of 2.17 per cent. Average population density is about 800 per square kilometer. The population is overwhelmingly rural (80 per cent) are involved in various agricultural activities. Health and education levels are very low, with a life expectancy of 59.5 years.

High population growth in Bangladesh has been identified as very serious problems inhibiting sustainable use of resources and particularly the greatest impact of natural resources. Present population density are one of highest growth rate in the world and which is estimated to be 140 million by the year 2000. Increasing in development or productivity are often loosing balance by the population growth.

The high rate of growth, the large size of population are increasing poverty and other related social problems gives a tremendous stress on natural resources and on the socio-economic aspects of the country. Furthermore, population with increasing numbers entering labour force ages places a tremendous burden to the government to create employment opportunities. These situations constrain socio-economic uplift and creating unemployment.

2.3 Poverty and Illiteracy:

It is estimated that more than half of the population in Bangladesh living under poverty level. Increasing population growth and natural calamities further aggravates the poverty situation in Bangladesh. More than 70% of people are illiterate and they donít have any knowledge of environment management and sustainable development. Landlessness and poverty make the peoples hungry, they always search food and shelters for survive. Poverty and illiteracy acts as a catalyst to many forms of environmental degradation, particularly more in case of forest, fisheries and other biological resources with increasing population. Illiteracy rate among adults (over 15 years) is estimated at 57.4 per cent and among women, it is higher (Bangladesh Economic Review, 1997).

In 1997, the per capita land availability in Bangladesh was 0.11 ha, declining from 0.16 ha in 1981. The continued shrinkage of the land resources base is reflected in the growing landlessness and pauperization. Nearly 56 percent of the population are functionally landless-owning less than 0.2 ha of land. A low land/man ratio further intensifies the competition of the very limited resources for different purposes of use. In near future there would be scarcity of new land for cultivation, because increases of unplanned settlement and other development activities.

2.4 Natural Disastrous:

Bangladesh is suffering from devastating natural disastrous such as cyclone, tidal surge and flood in every year. Cyclones are recurrent phenomenon in the Bay of Bengal. The severe killer cyclones developed during spring and autumn of which 75 per cent occurs strictly from mid April to mid June and mid September to mid December. In many cases the cyclone can be accompanied by tidal serge reaching even more than 20 feet high causing enormous danger to human lives, livestock, trees and infrastructure of the country.

Man-made degradation and over-exploitation of natural resources both aggravate the major natural hazards impacting on environment regionally and worldwide. The cyclone occurred in 1991 in Bangladesh caused the death of about 140000 people. The floods which occurred in 1987 and 1988 were extremely severe, flooded about 57000 and 82000 square-kilometers area of the country (ADB,1991). Some of this severity is said to have arisen out of a reduction of forested land in the watershed, increased drainage congestion and floodplain area reduction upstream and in the delta. Cyclones and floods are resulting in the damage of crops, houses, roads, embankments, educational institutions etc. Through the green-house effects, global warming causing sea-level rise, which is still in the process of being detected, could be a very severe impact on the deltaic country like Bangladesh.

2.5 Land Degradation / Erosion:

Major causes of land degradation/soil erosion in Bangladesh occur through over-exploitation of biomass from the cultivated field, deforestation and shifting cultivation in the south-eastern hilly areas. The southeast region has river systems that are entirely independent of the three major river systems of the country. Rivers in this region generally originate in the hill ranges of Tripura and Assam in India. These rivers directly drain to the Bay of Bengal. The Karnafulli is the largest of these rivers and the port city of Chittagong is situated on its bank. The major causes of land degradation/ soil erosion are as follows:

(a) Deforestation
(b) Shifting Cultivation
(c) Improper Agricultural Practices
(d) Water Erosion
(e) Urbanization and Development Activities

a.) Deforestation:

Bangladesh has a limited forest resources occupying only about 2.56 million hectares (ha), including officially classified and unclassified state forests and forest lands accounted for by village forests and tea/rubber gardens, which cover 17.8 per cent of the country's total land area (FMP,1993). The Forest Department manages all state owned forests except Unclassified State Forests (USF). The USF lands occupy 0.73 million ha and are under the control of the District Administration of the three hill districts, namely Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban.

The state owned forest land managed by the Forest Department include: (a) Hill Forests comprising an area of 0.59 million hectare which are tropical moist evergreen and semi-evergreen forests in greater Chittagong, Sylhet and three hill districts; (b) 0.58 million hectare of Sundarbans mangrove forest and 0.15 million hectare of artificially raised mangrove plantations in the coastal belts and offshore islands and (c) plain land deciduous Sal (Shorea robusta) forest covering 0.14 million hectare (Task Force vol. IV, 91). State forests are the most important sources of forest products in Bangladesh. The Forest of Bangladesh are disappearing at a rapid and accelerating pace both qualitatively and quantitatively. The main causes of deforestation are over exploitation due to population pressure, encroachment and shifting cultivation. According to FAO Forest Resource Assessment Report, the annual rate of deforestation in Bangladesh during the period 1981-1990 has been around 37000 ha (3.3% annually) excluding new plantations against the previously reported deforestation rate of 8000 ha annually over the period of 1971-1980.

Deforestation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and other region occurs due to collection of wood for various household and industrial purposes, clear cutting, burning is a regular phenomenon. These deforestation activities occurs large scale destruction of forest cover expose land to accelerated soil erosion, reduces soil fertility and soil moisture retention capacity, cause rapid siltation in basin and river beds resulting in drainage congestion and increasing damage from flush floods. More over it causes depletion of forest resources and biodiversity and ultimately degrades the environment. Deforestation effects the local hydrology of the region and causes poor distribution of run-off from watershed. Moreover, deforestation are depleting natural resources and habitat of wildlife biodiversity and ultimately causing environmental degradation.

b) Shifting Cultivation:

Shifting cultivation is a cycle of process, cutting to be burning the natural vegetation in the hilly areas to create more cultivated land. Under this process crops are grown for years until the land becomes either poorer in fertility or infected by bio-agents such as weeds, pests, pathogens and parasites particularly in the pedosphere and then the site for cultivation is shifted having the land for degradation. Then the land is having fallow to allow regeneration and replenishment of soil fertility for a long period. At the end of the fallow period the cycle may be repeated or the cultivators move to entirely new land and start a new cycle there.

Extension of shifting cultivation, improper cultivation practices on hilly slope causes increase in degradation of soil. The total area in high areas is about 756,687 ha out of which 32,500 ha is under shifting cultivation and topsoil loss is 1.5 million tons per year. The total area in low hill areas is about 573,892 ha out of which 20,864 ha is under cultivation with arum, ginger, turmeric, pineapples etc. and has a soil loss of about 0.94 million ton/year as on site effect. Drainage congestion, flash floods, burial of fertile land by sandy debris, landslides/ slips, loss of lives and properties are spectacular as off-site effect. In the case of shifting cultivation about 10-15 percent of the land may be cultivated at any point in time, however population pressures compel shifting cultivators to reduce fallow periods to speed up the rotation cycle. This leads to a depletion of organic matter, soil erosion and lower long-term productivity. Due to population pressure, the human settlements in the hilly areas are increasing day by day. In Hill Tract districts of Bangladesh about 108,000 people are dependent on shifting cultivation and about 1 million hectares of land is affected (FAO 1986). Due to absence of ownership of hilly land, no control over movements of people and livestock are maintained. Illiteracy and very poor sense of soil conservation of the shifting cultivators lead to overgrazing of lands by their livestock. Shifting cultivation on 5% and 10% slope at Ramgarh in the hill district caused removal of 92 and 184 ton/ha/year, respectively. The soil loss on 50% slope is 30 ton/ha/year (Islam 1995).

c) Improper Agricultural Practice :

In Bangladesh, green revolution strategy is based on only high yielding rice varieties. This strategy resulted in the increasing shift of land from non-rice crops to rice production. This has ultimately tens to a mono crop agricultural practice and decrease the diversity of rice. Mono cropping practice decreases cultivation of non-cereal crops considerably. Especially it decline in the practice of various kind of pulses and cereals. Ultimately mono-cropping cultivation impacts on soil health, i.e. soil physical and chemical properties and the cultivation practice followed in growing monsoon crops does not obey the principles of soil and water conservation practice. Intensive cultivation, irregular supply of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and unsustainable irrigation management are causing soil degradation at an alarming rate. Improper agricultural practice increasing soil degradation, in near future soil would be less productive.

d) Water Erosion:

In the rainy season land degradation occurs due to water erosion is as serious problem in hilly terrains due to shifting cultivation, massive deforestation and other unsustainable agricultural practices on hilly slopes. As a result, severe soil erosion occurs in hilly slope areas due to shifting cultivation as well as its decrease soil pH, organic matter content and deplete of nitrogen, calcium, magnesium and potassium content of soils. In every year flood causing river bank erosion that enhance the losses of river side land, displacement of population, loss of social cohesion, disrupting living patterns, damaging crops, infrastructure and development.

e) Urbanization and Development Activities:

Urbanization has to be accompanied by building of adequate infrastructures like housing, roads, educational institute, recreational facilities and sufficient greenery. Provision of essential utility services like electricity, pure drinking water, public transport system, gas, telephone etc are needed in urbanization. All of these construction/development activities are disturbing natural resources and sustainable ecosystem. The two major cities of Bangladesh are the capital, Dhaka with a population of 6.84 million (area is 1353 sq. km) and the countryís major port city Chittagong with a population of approximately 2.35 million (area is 986 sq. km) in 1991. Both cities have also major industrial areas associated with them. The other important cities are Khulna, the second most important port city, Rajshahi in the north and Sylhet in the northeast. The urban population is projected to double in the next 10 to 15 years mainly due to the influx of migrants from rural areas for getting employment. The population of Dhaka was estimated to be growing at an annual rate of 6.5 percent in 1985-90, while Chittagong at a rate of 5.1 percent. These are about three times the national rate of population growth (Khan and Keong, 1992). Urban settlement faces difficulty in meeting the demands for natural resources, energy and disposal of domestic wastes. The solid wastes are used to fill low lands and liquid wastes are thrown into nearby water bodies or the rivers system resulting in the contamination of soil, ground water and open water sources.

Construction of dam, bridge and embankments caused much deterioration of soil in terms of quality of sediment and disturbance. Development activities like water resources development works have caused sediment erosion either directly or indirectly. City development activities in some district head quarters (e.g. Dhaka, Chittagong, Rangamati, Sylhet etc) needed earth filling in some places. There has been a continuous carrying of soils by cutting from different hills. Authorized contractor, private companies or even individuals are engaged in removing soils to make profit without giving any attention to the consequences of huge soil losses and land slides in any locations within the region. Road construction is another reason of soil erosion and exact quantitative estimation of sediment loss in those areas is not available.

2.6 Water pollution/ Water issues:

The greater part of the landscape of Bangladesh is dominated by the combined networks of three major rivers, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna. These three rivers and their tributaries have their headwaters outside the country in Nepal, China, Bhutan and India and about 90 per cent of their flow originates outside Bangladesh. Out of 700 rivers including tributaries in Bangladesh only 54 are inter-country rivers. In fact, the inter-country rivers are the main sources of freshwater flow in Bangladesh. So, the country has almost no control over its river water flow. Construction of barrages, withdrawal of river water by the upstream country India, excessive rainfall and flooding in the upstream countries are adversely affecting the environment of the country for last few decades.

The agriculture in Bangladesh is depended mostly on rainfall. The effects of drought are felt through crop failure completely or partially due to moisture deficiency during span of crop life. Regional aspects are also a factor, whereby watershed management practices in upper riparian countries can have significant impacts on Bangladesh. The Farakka Barrage is an example, where restricting fresh water flows during the dry season, has caused serious problems in southwest of Bangladesh. The diversion of Ganges water by the Farakka barrage in India has contributed to the reduction of surface water availability and aggravated the desertification process in the western part of the country.

Blocking of rivers and natural channels by cross-dams and embankments for flood control, drainage and irrigation purposes in the inland open waters results in reduction and drying up of wetlands as well as fish habitats. All most all the rivers and stream in Bangladesh receive direct discharge of industrial effluent, agro-chemical residues and domestic and municipal wastes into natural water bodies cause pollution of the aquatic environment resulting in death of fish and disrupting aquatic ecosystem. Ultimately, the toxicity of water pollution effects on human health by taking water, fish and other edible organisms. Besides, arsenic contamination in ground water is already alarming on social-health problem in Bangladesh, it is estimated based on geologic criteria that about 50 million people might have been exposed to threat of arsenic contamination.

2.7 Intrusion of Salinity:

The major water issues relate to dry season phenomenon such as salinity intrusion in the coastal areas particularly in the southwest due to reduced and reducing river flow/fresh water flushing. These reduced flows are mainly due to the construction of embankments and other water development activities causing more rapid siltation of river channel that deplete fish resources including reduction of wetlands and biodiversity.

The coastal zone is extensively affected by intrusion of salt water into the rice growing area reduces rice production and other agricultural production in the wetlands area. There are some reasons for which salinity increases in the rice filed i.e. diversion of Ganges river flows by Farakka Barrage by neighbouring country India, over drafting of fresh water aquifers, upstream withdrawal for irrigation for rice/ other crops and shrimp culture etc. Salinity also impacts the areas of urban and industrial centers of Khulna and Chittagong. When the stream flow of the Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna and their tributaries diminish greatly during the dry season, there is substantial inland penetration of salinity through the complex estuarine river system. This salinity intrusion limits the opportunity for supplementary irrigation of dry and early monsoon crops in coastal fresh water area and damages the same crops by flooding during very high tides.

High salinity also affects the growth of mangrove vegetation greatly including the change of species composition and growth retardation of certain tree species including the top dying of Sundri (Heritiera fomes) and changes the general morphological characteristics of certain plants in Sundarban Mangrove Forest. On the other hand, oil spills, ballast water discharge and other pollutant discharge from the large number of ships that travel through the ports of Bangladesh presents a high potential for degrading the marine and coastal environment.

2.8 Industrial Pollution:

There are about 30000 industrial units in Bangladesh, out of which only 6000 are large industries and the rests are cottage industries. Most of the mills and factories of Bangladesh are located along river front of Dhaka, Narayangong, Tongi, Chittagong and Khulna.

An industrial survey was undertaken by the Department of Environment in 1997, through which 1176 are major polluting industries have been identified. Sector-wise distribution of these polluting industries Tanneries-198, Textiles-365, Cement-5, Jute-92, Chemicals & pesticides-118, Food & sugar-38, Rubber & plastics-63, Pulp & paper-10, Pharmaceuticals-149, Engineering-129, Distilleries-4 and Fertilizer-5.

Almost all the industries have little or no waste management plant/ effluent treatment plant regarding pollution control and occupational health. Nearly all agro-chemical and large industries dump the solid and liquid effluents into rivers and canals without any treatment which causes severe pollution of the rivers near industrial areas, resulting in the loss of aquatic biodiversity and these industries also causing serious air pollution that impacts on environment and causing green-house effects.

3.0 ENVIRONMENTAL STRATEGIES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN BANGLADESH

In recently, Bangladesh of government has taken the crucial step to ensure the effective implementation of the Environmental Conservation Act, 1995 by declaring six sites as Ecologically Critical Areas, all within the countryís highly significant coastal, marine and freshwater wetland ecosystems. And Sundarbans mangrove forest ecosystem (10,000 sq. km area) has declared as a World Heritage Site, will have a significant and positive impact on the long-term viability of the countryís important biodiversity resources. The Government and other non-government organization are views sustainable development as process of social and economic betterment that satisfies the needs and values of all groups of people while maintaining future opportunities and conserving natural resources of the country. With the view to combat the environmental degradation the government is formulating environmental strategy for sustainable development.

The Govt. plans to improve environmental education and training programs, develop comprehensive environmental data bases public information and participation programs, develop and implement projects. The Govt. has also improving environmental aspects by dealing with environmental management, promote international co-operation to protect natural resources, and limit trans-boundary pollution; regional water sharing, prepare periodic plan and reports on the state of the environment, etc. Furthermore, the Govt. intends to formulate a national human settlement strategy for planned expansion of cities and rural settlements for sustainable use of land. Government and Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) has already been launched poverty alleviation program through micro-credit loan programs.

3.1 LIST OF SOME INITIATIVES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:

A wide range of initiative has been under taken by the Government and the Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) to conserve the environment as well as sustainable development. These are as follows:

1. National Environment Policy, 1992; the Environment Conservation Act, 1995 and the Environment Conservation Rules, 1997 under the Act have the main objective of maintaining natural ecological balance and ensuring sustainable development of the country through the planned development and conservation of the environment.

2. National Environmental Management Action Plan (NEMAP) has been formulated and under the process of implementation.

3. Formulation of a National Conservation Strategy (NCS) and its implementation is in progress.

4. The national Forest policy, 1994 having the aim to ensure ecologically sound and sustainable development of forest resources with the active participation of people are being implemented.

5. A 20year's Forestry Master Plan is formulated for 1993-2013. It envisages an afforestation program through both conventional forestry operation and a vigorous pursuance of people participation. Social forestry and Agro-forestry are given due importance to save the natural forest and stop deforestation as well as to meet the ever increasing demand of forest resources.

6. A pilot project on "Coastal and Wetland Biodiversity Management" is being implemented by DOE and founded by UNDP-Global Environmental Facilities (GEF).

7. There are 4(four) national parkís, 11(eleven) wildlife sanctuary and one Game Reserve in Bangladesh which are protected areas for the preservation of flora and fauna in their natural habitat. About 5.27 percent of forested area and 0.81 per cent of total land has been declared as protected area. Attempts are being taken from the Government to increase the protected area.

8. Updating the list of endangered and threatened species of flora and fauna is being done by the Bangladesh National Herbarium and IUCN- The world conservation union of Bangladesh.

9. An action plan for phasing out of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) in Bangladesh has been formulated and implementation is going on by DOE and funded by UNDP.

10. Programme that is in progress to convert gradually public sector vehicles into Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) operated ones.

11. A pilot project on Bangladesh Climate Change Study has been implemented and presently Least-Cost Greenhouse Gas Abatement Strategy is being formulated.

12. A pilot project on Agenda 21 is a basis to attain sustainable development through policies initiated and coordinated at the national level is being formulated.

13. Sustainable Environment Management Programme (SEMP) a project which is going to implement by the Ministry of Environment and Forest through technical and financial assistant of UNDP.

14. Bangladesh Environmental Management Project is going to implement by Department of Environment with three demonstration project such as (i) Design and demonstrate models of sustainable environmental management (ii) Develop environmental management tools and techniques and provide practical training opportunities for DOE technical and managements and participants in industry and local communities and (iii) Raise environmental awareness among wide and varied- funded by Canadian International Development (CIDA).

15. Neither any industry shall be established nor any project shall be undertaken anywhere without obtaining Environmental Clearance from the Department of Environment (DOE). For this reason, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) should be ensured for all new development projects and industrial units.

16. Implementation of recently prepared Sector-wise Industrial Guidelines and Standards for four major types of industries, namely, textiles, cement, pulp & paper and fertilizer is being done for environment friendly industrial development.

17. Public awareness through publicity in the mass media like Radio, Television and Newspaper about the environmental management is being done. Institutional development and strengthening component is of vital importance. It focuses on developing awareness and capabilities, processes and institutions that will plan and implement development programs in an integrated manner, across multiple sectors, and with regard to environmental concerns.

4.0 CONCLUSION

In Bangladesh population growth is the most critical and constantly changing factor in the ecological system affecting the demand on natural resources. Greater numbers of peoples mean the demands of more food, water, forest products, more energy, more employment problem and consequently severe environmental degradation. More than half of the population in Bangladesh are living under poverty level. So it is inhuman to ask the poor people to conserve the natural resource, who are engaged whole days in search of food and shelter to keep the body and soul together. Before campaigning about environmental awareness program there should be ensure of poverty alleviation and mass literacy program including the control of population growth.

It is widely recognized that sustainable development is closely linked to a healthy environment and ecosystem. In Bangladesh, environment conservation and sustainable development was a low priority aspect in the past. Now-a-days, environmental conservation has been accepted as the key aspects for the sustainable development, the very survival of all over the world. There is still a significant lack of public awareness and moreover environmental issues have not been yet incorporated properly in development activities. This requires integrated management of resources and integration of environment in all development activities.

Sustainable development is a process which will start with situational analysis including problems identification, prioritization followed by policy making, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In many cases, problems identification and its ranking or future planning is not done by involving participatory approach. It is evident that the stakeholders problems or root causes of threats that depletes natural resources are remains behind the consideration. More importantly in the field of development in general and agricultural development in particular a few common approaches that are used for planing are far from fully participatory. Coordination of National planner/ policy maker and stakeholder participatory approaches is needed to input in the field of any development. As because the local stakeholders are important components who are exploiting natural resources and also they can conserve the same for better environment.

It is an urgent need to take necessary measures in order to control and minimize the adverse effect of human activities, which are causing environmental degradation. And to ensure conservation of natural resources and sustainable development, urbanization, sustainable agricultural system etc are the main components. Proper implementation of environment friendly and sustainable development policy is most important along with a pragmatic implementation strategy. Coordination of national policy maker/planner stakeholders participatory approaches are most important in the field of sustainable development.

5.0 RECOMMENDATIONS

∑ Introduction of appropriate sustainable agricultural system with the balanced use of chemical fertilizers with organic, mineral, green manure and natural pest controls.

∑ Formulation of proper land use policy and monitor and evaluate physical, biological and socio-economic component of land use and sustainable development.

∑ Promote policies and strengthen institutional framework to develop cooperation and coordination among the donor community groups and facilitate access by local population to appropriate technology.

∑ Enhancement of the capacity of NGOs, Govt. agencies to increase poverty alleviation programme including non-formal education on environmental and ecological awareness.

∑ Ensure stakeholder participation in public community planning and enforcement of planning decisions and find out the root causes of threats and destruction of habitats of biological diversity.

∑ Evaluation and monitoring of previous development activities to find out the adverse impact and improve future sustainable development.

∑ Need proper implement of environment conservation actís and legislation.

∑ Reduction of pressure on natural resources through alternative income generation sources.

∑ Sound forest policies based upon the capacity of the forest and the land under them to perform various functions, with conservation of forest resources staring with the local people.

∑ Technological transfer and sharing of existing global technological facilities and financial help in conserving natural resources and fragile ecosystems.

∑ Adequate extension communication between research works and farmers can solve premitive agricultural system including sustainable irrigation management, proper use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

∑ Development of bilateral and/or regional programmes involving neighboring states and international organizations in respect of natural resources conservation and sustainable development.

∑ Mass awareness, human resource development, capacity building regarding natural resource management in various field that need to be prioritized both for professional and technicians.

6.0 REFERENCES

ADB,1991. Disaster Mitigation in Asia and the Pacific, Asian Development Bank, Manila.

Bangladesh Economic Review, 1997. Ministry of Finance, Government of Bangladesh.

BBS (1997). Statistical Yearbook of Bangladesh 1997. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Dhaka.

DANIDA, 1989. Environment Profile: Bangladesh, Danish International Development Agency.

DOE, 1997. Introducing DOE, Department of Environment, Govt. of Bangladesh.

FAO, 1981. Forest Resources of Tropical Asia, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

FMP, 1993. Forestry Master Plan, 1993/2012, Vol. 1, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Govt. of Bangladesh.

Forest Department, 1997. Information Cell, Tree Fair-1997, Dhaka.

Islam M.A. 1985. Soil Erosion and Conservation in Hilly Areas of Agricultural Research in Bangladesh. Proceeding of Bangladesh Research Council, Dhaka.

IUNC, UNEP and WWF (1980), World Conservation Strategy. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN

Khan, M.A.A. and Keong, C.H. 1992. Ecosystems Affected By Population and Development Activities in Bangladesh, In: People, Development and Environment Complex Interlinkages in Bangladesh , Proceedings of a National Symposium, Dhaka.

Task Force Reports, 1997: Bangladesh.

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IMPACTS OF AIR POLLUTION ON HUMAN HEALTH IN BANGLADESH

Md. Hasibur Rahman

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated country of the world. Industrial and vehicular toxic gaseous emission impacts on environment and causing human health problem in densely polluted urban area. Mitigative measure is being implementing through air pollution monitoring, research, dissemination of research activities, particularly phasing out of two-stroke engine smoke belching auto-rickshaws the most polluting vehicles and finally government has decided to import lead (Pb) free fuel and encouraging to use Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Public awareness already been adopting in urban area by the government and different non-government agencies to prevent serious health problems causing by air pollution.

Background:

In common sense people thinks air pollution means vehicular smokes and industrial gaseous emission. But air pollution means any solid, liquid or gaseous substances present in the atmosphere in such concentrations that impact on human health or other living creature as a whole creates environmental pollution. Composition of fresh dry air contents 78.09% Nitrogen and 20.94% Oxygen by volume. The rest of 0.97% is composed of different gaseous mixture elements (i.e. carbon dioxide, helium, argon, nitrous oxides and xenon) and very negligible amount of some other organic and inorganic gases. If these compositions found different in any atmospheric air then the air would be called polluted. Air pollution could be happen by two ways i.e. by naturally and artificially. Naturally, air pollution caused by volcanic eruption, dust bearing cyclone, natural-fog, pollen grains, bacteria etc. Significantly, air is polluting by artificially i.e. man-made vehicular and industrial gaseous emission and also by house holds municipal wastes odors.

Human beings cannot survive without taking atmospheric oxygen through respiration system in a suitable mixture of oxygen, nitrogen and other inert gases. It is an assumption that an adult man takes 16-18 kg air through respiration system in his day life. Fresh air is a basic demand of human beings.

It is recognized that civilization of mankind was started with the invention of fire. Fire creates smokes, so air pollution was started from the primitive period of cave man. At that time air pollution was very negligible in ratio with the density of population. Air pollution increasing rapidly due to technological development, creation of engines, industrialization, power plant set-up, burning coal & crude oil, steam locomotives use of railway, steamer, motor vehicles, transport and internal combustion engines burning petrol, diesel, kerosene and also by households vegetable oils burning, fire-wood, paraffin's & kerosene burning. Including all above, use of aerosol and pesticides are mostly polluting the atmospheric air very seriously.

Developments of the metallurgical and chemical industries are creating smog as air pollutants impacting environment. Emission of chlorocompounds of solvents, dioxins and related compounds (chlorodibenzofurances, etc.) emitting from the chemical industry. One of serous problems is the ozone layer depleting substances by chloroflorocarbons (CFC), helon, methane etc. Brick burning industries in Bangladesh are using fire-wood, coal are increasing air pollution seriously. It is really difficult to completely eradicate of air pollution with use of vehicles, transportation and development of industries but it can be checked and minimize to a certain point.

Industrial emission and fossil fuel combustion in vehicles equipment accounted for large amount of carbon dioxides emission are increasing global air pollution that creating acid rain and greenhouse effect causing global warming and climate change.

Sources of Air pollution in Bangladesh:

Urban air quality in Bangladesh is inferior compared to the rural areas, due to more densely population and traffic congestion. Increasing population, urbanization, transportation and industries are creating uncontrolled emission sources related to air pollution that reflecting as negative impacts on environment as well as human health. - Major industrial sources in Bangladesh are industrial plants of Cement, Pulp & Paper, Fertilizer, Textiles, Leather Tanning, Pharmaceuticals, Pesticides, Ceramic, Paints, Chemicals, Metal Coating, Plastic, Foundry, Soaps, Detergents, Power plants, Open burning of fuel-wood, Brisk burning industries, Solid waste disposal sites etc.

The most general gaseous emissions from industries are odor compounds, such as H2S and NH3, SO2, NOx, CO, carbohydrates, fluorides, acid mists, Cl2, volatile organic compounds and Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM).

- Major vehicular sources in Bangladesh are Mechanized vehicles, Car, Bus, Jeep, Taxi, Truck, Micro & Minibus, two-stroke engine vehicles, motor cycles, Water engines vessels, Railway engine, Air crafts etc.

Major vehicular air pollutants are Suspended Particular Matter (SPM), Carbon dioxides, Sulfur Dioxides, Carbon Monoxides, Hydrocarbons, Nitrogen oxides and particulate of lead compounds and un-burn fuel particles etc. The emission from diesel engines is black smoke, CO, un-barn hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide. Two stroke petrol engines which are used in motor cycles, scooters and three wheelers are less fuel burning efficient and release larger amount un-burn fuel and more CO than four-stroke or diesel engines.

Most of the brick burning industry established near the city for the better marketing of their products. These brick- fields are degrading the environment in two ways, i.e. use of fuel wood as a energy source causing deforestation and emission of pollutants contains suspended particular matters, carbon monoxides, sulfur dioxides, fluorine etc. are degrading ambient air quality. The pollutants discharged may cause respiratory problem of human and ashes including other SPM fallen on the crops and plants, often close the pores of the leaves and hamper photosynthesis and respiration of plants. Long term impacts of these pollutants any cause of death of plants and degrading environment as a whole.

House holds pollution causing by burning of coal, diesel, firewood, dry cattle dung, vegetable waste products, refuse burning emit carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxides, hydrocarbon and dust particles. Municipal solid waste and sewage are dumping near the city area, from the decomposition of these waste procedures bad odor and blowing air carries that bad odor to the residential areas causing unusual situation of city life.

With the increasing population and urbanization number of vehicles are introducing rapidly in urban area are causing serious air pollution. Narrow roads, congestion, formation of long queues at intersections, very low speed specially near shopping and commercial areas. Recondition i.e. poor condition of vehicles, low quality of fuel/lead containing fuel and poor traffic management aggravates the air pollution in city area. According to the Department of Environment there are 70-80 percent of vehicles are very poor condition and creating major air pollution in urban area of Bangladesh.

In urban area the ambient air quality is dependent on many factors whereby air movement, traffic volume, congestion, gaseous emission from industries and vehicles are the most important. The traffic emission relates directly to speed to travel, level and quality of vehicles engine maintenance. Suspended Particulate Matter and un-burn fuel causing serious problem in maintaining diesel and two stroke engines.

Environmental Legislation:

With a view to protecting the environment of the country, the government of Bangladesh promulgated Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 and Environment Rules, 1997. This Act and Rules empowers the governmentís implementing agency the Department of Environment to prevent, control and abate environmental pollution and conservation of environment in the country. Under the Environment Conservation Rulesí97 Department of Environment is being provided environmental clearance, categorized various industries and projects into four categories on the basis of their expected pollution loads and proposed location. Rules include standards for air, water, noise and odor, vehicular emission, domestic and industrial waste effluents etc. Other related environmental legislation are Factories Act 1965, the Factory Rules, 1979, Shops and Establishments Act, 1965, Radiation Protection Act, 1993.

Ambient Air Quality Scenario:

Department of Environmental has given Standard Limit of SPM-500, SO2-120, CO-5000 and Nox-100 (concentration in micrograms per cubic meter) in industrial area, SPM-400, SO2-100, CO-5000 and Nox-100 in Commercial and mixed use area, SPM-200, SO2-80, CO-2000 and Nox-80 in residential and rural area and SPM-100, SO2-30, CO-1000 and Nox-30 for the sensitive area.

One report of Department of Environment views the investigative monitoring (December, 1996- September-1997) in different points of Dhaka City. The average monthly results of investigative monitoring as shown in December'96 is SPM-602.02, SO2-128.76, NOx-65.50 (in Tejgaon industrial area) in December'96 - SPM-1797.80, SO2-71.53, NOx-24.90 (in Farmgate commercial area).

Atomic Energy Commission showed in a report that at least 50 tones of lead are deposited annually in the air in Dhaka City. It also showed that at certain points with traffic congestion the air contains 463 nanograms of lead. Studies by Dhaka Shishu (Children) Hospital revealed that lead found in blood was eight times higher than the acceptable level, forming lead lines in the bone, mostly among under privileged children living in congested slums near transport hubs in the city.
Health Effects:

Air pollution with the lead is seriously effecting physiological constituent of the human body. It enters in the body through respiration system. Lead is a deadly poisonous metal and prolonged low does exposure causes cancer in human beings.

Air pollution impacts on human health through polluting agents and suspended particular matters such as municipal wastes, decomposed air-borne gases, vapors, fumes, mist, dust, industrial emission and vehicular emissions. These pollutants effect on human health on contact by skin, exposed membranes and by respiratory system. Immediate and long term impacts on human health are furnished below:

1. Eye Irritation, Nose and throat irritation, Irritation of the respiratory tract
2. Head aches, nausea and suffocation
3. A variety of SPM, particulate like pollens, initiate asthmatic attacks
4. Chronic pulmonary diseases like bronchitis and asthma are aggravated by a high concentration of SO2, NOx particulate matter and photochemical smog.
5. Hydrogen fluoride causes disease of the bone (fluorsis) and mottling of teeth
6. Carcinogenic agents such as exhaust of un-burn fuel causes cancer
7. Dust particles cause respiratory diseases. Diseases like silicosis, asbestosis, etc., result from specific dusts
8. Certain heavy metals like lead (Pb) may enter the body through the lungs and cause poisoning.

Recommendation:

i) It is need to ban new registration of two stroke engines and smoke emitted vehicles as well as phase out of these vehicles.
ii) Need to ensure import of lead free and low sulfur containing fuel.
iii) Proper monitoring and maintenance of all types of vehicles
iv) All vehicles need strict fitness tests and smoke emission test with heavy penalty of defaulters
v) Strictly ban sales of loose lubricating oils for vehicles
vi) Alternative transport fuels like Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), ethanol, methanol and electricity need to introduce in place of traditional fuel.
vii) Better traffic management with construction of fly-over, one way streets, multi-stored parking facilities and foot overpass would be most effective.
viii) Industries must not be set-up in any residential area and these must be set-up in a specific industrial zone (area) with proper effluent treatment plant.

Conclusion:

Air pollution must be considered as the most vulnerable environmental health hazards. It is important to take immediate initiative to protect air pollution on the basis of latest scientific information and technology available. To address this problems environmental education and mobilizing through community participation in the urban area is essential. To reduce air pollution, every one of the society can play an important role by taking right decision of consumer choice and maintaining their own vehicles and also participating in tree plantation. Tree and green vegetation can reduce air pollution by absorbing carbon dioxide and inhibit travelling of dust and chemical elements that causes positive impact on human health.

On the other hand, air pollution stimulated greenhouse effects, global warming and sea level rising. Sea level rising would be most worsen environmental disastrous for the low-lying country Bangladesh. It is important to raise awareness campaign and mitigative measures for air pollution to control global warming.


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