Anyone can illegally obtain any kind of clearance from the Department of Environment (DoE) for setting up an industry by spending Tk36,000 to Tk1 lakh, a TIB research has found.
The illicit money transaction takes place in 66% of cases enabling many non-qualified industries to become qualified for the DoE clearance. DoE approves the setting up of an industry even without any environmental impact assessment certificate in exchange for money.
About 51% of the industries participating in the TIB research complained about illegal money transactions at DoE. Issuance of a clearance certificate is delayed if money is not paid, they said, adding the DoE officials demand money for the service they provide and they lack a helping attitude.
The research report titled 'Challenges of Good Governance for the DoE and Way Outs' was published Wednesday at a webinar.
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) research fellow Newazul Mawla presented the findings.
In his report, Newaz said 51% of the industries are currently operating with expired DoE licences, 70% of which have not applied for a renewal of their licences. Moreover, 72% of industries have been set up in residential areas which is a complete violation of rules. These factories are operating with DoE clearance.
Industries of all categories need to obtain a no objection certificate from the local authorities to get the DoE certificate. Yet 17% of industries have got the DoE clearance without submitting the local NOC.
"Money is working behind all these activities. Illicit money transaction takes place between the industry owner and the officials of the DoE to get a clearance. Even the nexus between the influential bureaucrats and the industry owners also play a role in this case," TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said in his comment.
The report further said a specific amount of money helps obtain any kind of certificates including NOC from the local authority, approval for the industry set up, site clearance and environmental clearance from the DoE.
In many cases, no environmental impact assessment is done before the starting of a project rather EIA is done at the last phase of the project using it in the name of extension EIA. This practice is very common in government projects. If any risk is detected in the project, later on, the DoE provides the mitigation measures and keeps the project ongoing.
TIB report also said the DoE officials do not inspect the factories regularly. Almost 30% of officials do not visit the factories even once a year. Most effluent treatment plants (ETPs) are kept dysfunctional in connivance with the officials who are paid to keep mum.