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Hefty fines do little to stop pollution by large corporations

  • Published at 12:36 am March 17th, 2020
Pollution Construction
Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

These companies show a general apathy towards complying with their corporate social responsibilities

The Department of Environment (DoE) dishing out hefty fines is not stopping large corporations from polluting the environment in Chittagong.

According to statistics collected from the DoE office, some 20 companies were fined a staggering Tk2.2 crore for flouting environmental laws last year.

These errant companies include PHP Family, KSRM, Abul Khair Group, Mostafa Hakim, GPH Ispat, S Alam Group, Well Food, Fulkoli, Diamond Cement, Confidence Cement, and KDS, among others.  

However, the large fines were not enough to deter the businesses from further damaging the environment.

On September 9, 2019, the DoE fined Finlay Properties Ltd Tk12 lakh for levelling 12,000 cubic feet of hills in Katalganj of the port city.

The realtor did not bother correcting itself even after paying the fine on that occasion.   

Just six months after the punitive action, the same realtor was found guilty of razing another 17,000 cubic feet of hills in the same area, earning them a fine of Tk17 lakh on March 10.

On June 10, 2019, the DoE fined Asian Paper Mills Tk20 lakh for polluting the Halda River, known to be the country’s only natural pure carp breeding ground.

The paper mill was served show-cause notices and fined on several occasions. However, the errant business still failed to straighten itself out.

Thus, on August 18, 2019, the DoE ordered the paper mill to suspend its operations until they procured a proper waste disposal system, rebuilt their faulty Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP), kept the ETP active round the clock and took initiatives to dispose of the sludge without causing harm to the environment.

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, environmentalist Prof Dr Muhammad Edris Ali said large corporations have a greater responsibility to comply with environmental rules and failing in this regard will not bode well for the environment.

“It is a matter of regret that leading businesses of the country spend a lot of money on advertising and marketing. But, such companies have a general apathy towards the environment and sustainable development, and are unwilling to invest money in keeping with their corporate social responsibilities. 

“We often hear that many businesses are running their factories without installing effluent treatment plants. In most cases, the factories do not keep the effluent treatment plants operational and wait for an opportune moment to release the untreated toxic waste into the environment,” said Dr Edris.

DoE Chittagong Regional Director Moazzam Hossain told the Dhaka Tribune that no one is above the law and they were implementing environment laws without discrimination, be it an individual or any state owned enterprise, or any private business. 

“For razing hills we order the offender to restore it to its previous state. The order is issued only to make the offender realize that an irrecoverable damage is done by razing hills,” said the DoE Director.

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