31 January 2011

Sector in grip of evil genie !!!

Environment state minister of Bangladesh tells of its HC role, foreign links working against country's interest..........

The country's ship-breaking industry is in the grip of an “evil genie that strolls down the verandas of the High Court,” State Minister for Environment and Forests Hasan Mahmud said yesterday.

“You all know the name of the evil genie. It has foreign connections. Foreign businessmen, who want to do trade in iron here, will be benefited, if the country's ship breaking industry is harmed,” said Mahmud.

He alleged those who demand closure of the country's ship-breaking yards have foreign connections.

The minister was speaking as chief guest at a view-exchange meeting titled “Preservation of the Environment: Role of the Industrialists and Businessmen” organised by Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) at its conference room in the port city.

The minister said the present government is sincere about protecting the interests of the ship breaking industry.

“You know how sincerely I am working to save the industry,” he said.

Owners of ship-breaking yards and the CCCI president at the meeting sought the minister's cooperation in resumption of dismantling of ships that remains suspended following a High Court ruling.

They urged the government to immediately formulate a policy for the sector.

“The government is not putting any obstacle to the industry. It's the evil genie that created some problems after getting some High Court verdicts in its favour,” Mahmud said.

“We will try to get rid of the evil genie but you should take immediate steps to make all ship-breaking yards environment-friendly,” he said.

The minister, however, did not mention anything about the deaths and injuries of a number of workers in several accidents at some ship-breaking yards.

According to newspaper reports, at least 30 workers died and 16 others were maimed in accidents in 16 ship-breaking yards in the last 21 months.

On January 18, four workers died and another suffered burns in an explosion at a ship-breaking yard in Sitakunda while scrapping a tanker that entered the country in breach of the HC directive.

He underlined the need for industrial development while protecting and conserving the environment, and said the businessmen should take the responsibility for protecting the environment.

The minister said the present government has started the culture of rewarding the critics of its handling of environmental pollution. The government gave the National Environment Award to The Daily Star for its role in portraying the status of environmental pollution in the country.

Mohammad Hatem, second vice president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, urged the government to give financial assistance for setting up effluent treatment plants in small industries.

The businessmen at the meeting criticised Md Munir Chowdhury, Director (Monitoring and Enforcement) of the Department of Environment (DoE), for fining different industries “excessively” during drives against polluters.

DoE Director General Monwar Islam presented the keynote paper at the meeting presided over by CCCI President Morshed Murad Ibrahim.

CCCI Vice President Md Nurun Newaj Selim, directors Mahfuzul Hoque Shah and Shafi Chowdhury, Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association President Hefazetur Rahman, former CCCI leaders SM Abul Kalam and MA Salam also spoke.

Source: The Daily Star. Sunday, January 30, 2011

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