Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the rich to stop filling up water bodies to construct buildings.
She also berated the ill-planned sewerage systems at the inauguration of World Environment Day and National Tree Plantation Campaign in Dhaka on Sunday.
Hasina spoke about how the Gulshan Lake in Dhaka had been encroached on over time.
“…It was twice the size of what it is today,” she said. “Unfortunately, illegal encroachment has reduced the area of the lake over the years.”
The prime minister said the privileged lived in the area but they paid no attention to the sewerage system when they built their houses.
She also lamented the lack of waste management facilities in hospitals and insisted that they have them.
Hasina said her government had taken steps to restore Dhanmondi Lake back to its glory in 1996, when her party first came to power.
“The Dhanmondi Lake’s condition was similar,” she recalled. “We restored it when we came to power, but the problem was with waste management.
“All the houses had their sewer connections linked to the lake. How will the environment be good in such a situation?”
The prime minister said a Tk 2.6 billion project would be undertaken to renovate Gulshan, Baridhara, and Banani lakes.
Apart from them, she said, two canals had been planned beside the Kuril Flyover.
She said the rich in the area had tried to obstruct the eviction of illegal encroachment for fear of losing their land.
“I think the rich should pay greater attention to this aspect to preserve the environment,” the prime minister added.
She highlighted her government’s efforts to preserve the environment.
“We’ve removed tons of wastes from the rivers around Dhaka and have succeeded in recovering illegally occupied land to some extent,” she said.
“We’re also continuing dredging.”
Hasina expressed indignation as the donors did not fulfil their promises to assist in combating climate change. She said the government had allocated about Tk 30 billion for the fund.
She urged industrialists to have waste-management systems when setting up industries.
About the tree plantation campaign, she said the country’s forest cover had risen to 17 percent in the last six years from nine percent.
She said the government was working to take it to 25 percent.
The prime minister called on the people to plant at least three saplings – one of woody, one of fruity and other of medicinal varieties.
She gave away the National Environment Award, Bangabandhu Award for Wildlife Conservation, and Prime Minister’s National Award for Plantation.
Hasina planted a sapling at the Krishibid Institute compound and later inaugurated the tree fair at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar.
She said the landscape could soon be transformed if people were sincere.
“Our land is very fertile. Every seed you sow grows into a plant.”