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Bangladesh - 2 weeks ago

Main challenge of dealing impacts of climate change

Staff Correspondent: Saber Hossain Chowdhury, a well-known face in the country’s politics. Also, a successful sports organizer. In the 12th national election, he was elected as a Member of Parliament from Dhaka-9 Constituency and got the responsibility of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. He spoke on various issues related to the climate change issues with media.
From the very first day he joined the ministry, he focused on his duties. But the plus point for him was that he served as the President of the Parliamentary Committee of the Environment, Forest and Climate Ministry of the National Parliament for a long time. Apart from political identity, he has a new level of identity. He is a devoted sports fan. Especially playing cricket. At the same time, he served as the president of BCB for some time. His contribution in taking the game of cricket in Bangladesh to the international level is memorable.
Saber Hossain Chowdhury left a mark of his genius, innovative thinking wherever he entered. Since he joined the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate, the image of the Ministry has changed. A significant change in this is the unbundling of files. As a minister, he appeared in his office before the specified time. Then one meeting after another started. Action plans for the coming days are made through these meetings. He has already prepared a 100-day action plan. The journey through this action plan has started. The way in which there is preparation and implementation of challenges.
In the beginning, he said, time is running out in the busyness. There is a lot of work. New things are coming again in this work. Incidentally, he said, we never thought that the heat wave would become a big news issue. Just as there are health risks due to heatwaves, there are also educational risks.
The minister said that the kind of thinking or action plan that was earlier to deal with the impact of climate change has to be thought differently in the current context. Because recently new issues are coming forward. A 100 day action plan has been undertaken on our priority issues. Undertaking this action plan means creating a place of accountability. We have to decide which work to do on a priority basis, and which thing is needed first for people. According to the election manifesto, we need to implement the priority tasks of building Smart Bangladesh. Through this 100-day action plan, the ability, transparency, accountability, goodwill and commitment of the ministry will be reflected by responding quickly to the people’s wishes.
Saber Hossain Chowdhury said that the 100-day work plan has already started and said that there will be some challenges in implementing the work plan targets. Referring to illegal brick kilns, he said, we have already identified about 5,000 illegal brick kilns in the country. But the implementation requires the cooperation of the local administration. There is no denying that, the number of enforcements required to solve these problems is insufficient compared to the demand. Therefore, our activities will not stop.
Talk about noise pollution, the minister said, the reality is that there is no alternative to increase awareness among people. Several steps have been taken by the Ministry to reduce noise pollution. Car horn honking is a matter of awareness. There are some new plans to use the car horn in the future. But we were able to identify the sources of noise pollution. Does the person who plays the car horn loudly understand the damage he is doing? If he had understood, he might not have honked so loudly. So, we have plans to train drivers, imams of mosques.
Incidentally, the minister said, why only noise pollution, air pollution, water pollution and soil pollution need to be given importance now. If these subjects can be included in the education curriculum, then awareness will come among many. But this requires a collective effort, public participation is essential.
In response to a question on air pollution, the minister said, “We have identified the sources of air pollution.” Although not a law, the rules are being worked on. Air pollution has now become a major challenge for the whole of South Asia. But everyone must work together. Referring to a source of air pollution, the minister said that imported diesel has high levels of sulphur. But our advice is that even if the source of air pollution can’t be stopped completely, it can be reduced in some cases. Air pollution will be much less if the construction material can be covered while bringing in the truck.
Stating that BRTA has a big role in reducing air pollution, the minister also said in this context, it has been said to take appropriate measures by calculating how many decimiles the motorcycle horn will be and how much the bus will be. Black smoke from buses is also one of the sources of air pollution. BRTA has already given the number of expired vehicles registered in the country. Surprisingly, there are still about 73,000 expired buses, minibuses, trucks, covered vans, tankers. A meeting has been held with the bus owner’s association and the law enforcement agencies. We will declare expired vehicles off the road as soon as possible. As a result, the level of air pollution will be reduced to some extent. But everyone’s cooperation is needed to do the work. That is why I think working through coordination will yield good results.
Recently there was a fire in the Sundarbans. Saber Hossain Chowdhury said that the history of Sundarbans is very old. We observe such behavior in nature very seriously. We are trying to figure out the extent of the damage. However, measures will be taken to prevent such accidents from happening in the future. There must be protocol for this. Sundarbans is not only a forest, it has water, ponds and biodiversity. That pond will be used as a source of water.
When Saber Hossain Chowdhury was the President of the Parliamentary Committee, a delegation of three members visited the Sundarbans area from 1 to 3 December 2022 under his leadership. After the visit, he identified the risks to the Sundarbans and recommended preparation of a strategy paper for remediation. When this topic was raised, he said very strongly that it must be made. Not only that, the recommendations of the current parliamentary committee will be implemented if deemed acceptable. Apart from mangroves, other trees are also developing the Sundarbans. But there is a part of Sundarbans in India. For this reason, we have to discuss and work together with them. The work of estimating the number of tigers is in progress. But compared to the last time, the number of tigers may increase this time.
The question to the minister was about dealing with the impact of climate change. “Climate change can make the weather worse” – Recently, the attention of the Minister of Environment was drawn to the fear of BBC meteorologist Ben Rich.
Agreeing with this, Saber Hossain Chowdhury said that the weather is getting worse day by day. Compared to this year, next year may be hotter. For this reason, we need to take a long-term action plan to deal with the impact of climate change. Climate change causes floods in Afghanistan, temperatures so high in the Philippines that schools are forced to close. Heavy rain in Brazil, Tornado in USA etc. But it is time to think about changing the school schedule due to the change in weather in our country. The temperature will increase next year as well – planning should be done now with this in mind. However, due to climate change, the major issue now is the health risk. Rising temperatures pose health risks. You have to think about it.
The minister said, from now on we are thinking about what kind of trees can be planted across the city. But you have heard that the two city corporations have taken up several schemes to moderate the temperature in the city. It is a very good initiative. However, private planting will be encouraged. Many will like urban greening. The environment will improve. But there is only one thing, a concerted initiative has to be taken. No good work can be done alone. Therefore, it will be much easier to deal with the impact of climate change with the coordinated efforts of various ministries. Incidentally, the Minister said that Purbachal has a part of the Forest Department.
The issue of reducing heat flow also came up in the interview. In this regard, Saber Hossain Chowdhury said that to reduce the heat wave, the international carbon emissions must be reduced. But this demand has been presented in international forums for a long time. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been saying this in international forums for a long time. In his personal opinion, Bangladesh needs about $9 billion to adapt to climate change.
Regarding the use of plastic, the minister said that a plan has been taken to reduce its use gradually. There is no denying that plastic is causing waterlogging in cities. And initiatives are being taken to cycle waste management. Again, the polluter who pollutes will be held responsible. He will also be brought under penalty.
Asked how effective electric cars are for reducing pollution, the minister said, maybe electric cars will come. But what will happen to that car battery when it runs out, and where will it be dumped from now on? But we want to take the environment towards sustainable development. This requires everyone’s cooperation. It is not possible for this ministry to improve alone. We want a concerted effort. This effort will be helpful in building Smart Bangladesh.
At one stage of the interview, the issue of recovering money from the Climate Trust Fund also came up. The minister said that he is aware of this. Trying. There is no error in the attempt.
Above all, according to the election manifesto, everyone will work together under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to build a smart Bangladesh, that is his expectation.

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