Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa), demanded the government reevaluate the FY22 budget, giving greater emphasis and importance to protecting the environment.
The demand was made at the virtual discussion, "National Budget 2021 – 22: Health and Environment Perspectives," initiated by the organisation's Environmental Health Program Committee on Thursday.
Bapa's Environment Health Program Committee Member Secretary and Researcher, Bidhan Chandra Pal, presented the keynote address at the event, presided by the Former Director of Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) and Convener of Bapa's Environmental Health Committee, Dr AM Zakir Hossain.
In his speech, Bidhan Chandra Pal said Bangladesh is one of the countries around the world that is most vulnerable to climate change, and if appropriate measures are not taken right now to protect the environment, there will be more suffering in the future.
"The government needs to tackle the pandemic but at the same time, they need to protect the environment. Everywhere around the world, governments are stepping away from development projects that are harmful to the environment, but the opposite is happening in Bangladesh," he added.
Pal added that the title of the budget for fiscal year 2021 – 22 gave importance to a strong future with a focus on livelihood, but he said the environment should have been highlighted as well.
He urged the government to include the environment in the title of the budget and asked for its reevaluation, emphasising the environment.
Atiur Rahman, former governor of Bangladesh Bank present in the discussion, said Covid-19 made us realise how important nature is to us, and to protect the environment from damage caused by climate change, it is important to undertake new and effective initiatives.
Anu Mohammad, professor at Jahangirnagar University, said development that is detrimental to the environment is harmful. He said initiatives must be taken to expand the country's forests.
"Various projects are being carried out in many parts of the country without the permission of the Ministry of Environment and that is frustrating. Where the government should be protecting the environment, they are taking part in destroying it," Mohammad added.
General Secretary of Bapa, Sharif Jamil said, "The plan we need to protect the environment is not happening. The government has not changed their philosophy about development, but that change is absolutely essential to protect the environment."