Scanning the Constitution, environmental laws and election manifestos of major political parties in Bangladesh: Is “Green Party (Germany)” model a solution? -02

বুধবার, ফেব্রুয়ারী ৫, ২০২০ ১:০৫ AM | বিভাগ : English

How much the election manifestos of Bangladeshi political parties reflect upon the environmental concerns?

I do analyze election manifestos of four major political parties in Bangladesh. Those are: Bangladesh Awami League, BNP, Jatiya Party (JP) and Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB).

Bangladesh Awami League, the present ruling party cum the political party with largest grass-root organization, incorporates a specific clause (clause 3.23) under the title “Climate Changes and the Protection of the Environment” and reads as follows:

“Among the countries adversely affected by climate changes and facing serious risks Bangladesh is at the top of the list. The position of Bangladesh and the steps taken by it in facing the challenges of climate changes, global warming, and the protection of environment have been highly acclaimed by the world community. Taking more courageous and farsighted plans and steps in facing those challenges is a call of the moment.

Success and Achievements

  • ‘Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan’ was prepared in 2009. 145 work plans in 44 programmes were taken up under this Plan to face issues regarding food security, disaster management, infrastructure, research works, curbing emissions of greenhouse gases and capacity building.

  • Government has, by its own resources, established a USD 400 million Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund under which 440 projects are being implemented.

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in its 21st convention in December 2015 took the Paris Declaration for keeping the rise of temperature below maximum 2 degrees, or 1.5 degrees if possible. Bangladesh is a signatory of that agreement.

  • 18 million or about 11 percent of the population are getting the benefits of solar power. Solar water pumps are being encouraged in agriculture in place of diesel pumps. 2 million improved cooking burners have been distributed among villagers.

  • Coastal green belts were established in coastal areas for minimizing losses due to cyclones and tidal waves and the forestation activities are being done in the newly raised lands in seas and river mouths.

Objectives and Plan

  • 17% people of the country will need to be moved away to new places if the rate of global warming persists as at present. Requisite plans and programmes in that respect will be taken up.

  • Funds for Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund established in 2010 will be enhanced to give supports to the affected people.

  • Increasing the area of productive forest to 20% against 13.10% of 2015, improving the quality of air in Dhaka and other major cities and preparing clean air law, introducing zero emission of industrial waste, recovery and protection of marshy lands following the laws on the protection of water bodies, and growing 500-metre wide green belts along the coastal lines are the plans for the next term.

  • Initiatives will be taken to implement the Ganges Barrage Project to expand irrigation facilities, prevent salinity and to make sweet water available in the river basins including the Sundarbans.

  • Short- and long-term projects will be taken to protect the natural environment of the vast water bodies (haors) and downstream areas.

  • Green growth strategy will be applied in all development works.”

Unfortunately, I could not find full version of election manifesto of BNP on internet. Neither of Jatiya Party or any left leaning political party. However, news reports on 2018 election manifesto of BNP reveals that of 19-points election manifesto, there is not any single provision regarding environmental protection. Those 19 points are 1) Ensuring Democracy and Rule of Law, 2)No age limit for government job entry except in military, law enforcement and civil defense, 3) Judicial Commission to reform criminal justice system, 4) Digital Security Act, Official Security Acts to be repealed, 5) Introducing city government system under municipality, 6) 11% GDP growth rate target, 7) Development of mega projects will continue. However, these projects will be thoroughly scrutinized to check corruption, 8) Accurate list of freedom fighters, 9) Unemployment allowance for youths, 10) Creating 2,00,000 government jobs within three years, 11) No electricity, gas tariff hike in first year, 12) Ensure voting rights for expatriates, 13) Minimum wage for ready-made workers; Tk. 12,000 within two years, 14) 5% of GDP will be spent on health sector, 15) Salary grade of inspector, Sub-inspector to be upgraded within six months, 16) Pension for senior citizens, rationing for poor, 17) Special friendship with Muslim and neighboring countries, 18) Separate Ministry for ethnic minorities, 19) VoIP system will be open for competitive business.

Sadly none of these 19 points reflect any pledge or promise on part of BNP for environmental protection or conservation.

Election manifesto of Jatiya Party 2018: Election manifesto of Jatiya Party (2018) connoted 18 points in total but none of them have any relevance with the issue of environment protection or conservation. Some of the key points of JAPA manifesto are:

# Introduction of provincial form of government by elevating the eight divisions into provinces.

# Double-layered structure of government including the central government and the provincial governments and a parliament of 300 seats.

# Decentralisation by shifting at least half of the government offices from Dhaka to the provincial capitals.

# Introducing percentage of votes to determine winners in elections. The Election Commission will be given ‘full independence’.

# Local government will be strengthened by introducing courts at Upazila level and other courts to look into family issues. Upazila chairmen will be the supreme authority in Upazilas.

# Jatiya Party promises an ‘independent judiciary’ within a year.

# Reformation of education system will include scrapping primary and junior secondary certificate exams at grade 5 and grade 8 respectively. Education will be free for women until graduation.

The manifesto also includes the promise to prioritize religious sentiment above all while 30 seats in parliament will be reserved for religious minority groups.

Election manifesto of Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB): Clause 22 of election manifesto of CPB upholds the promises to 1. Protect Bangladesh from submerging as induced by climate change. 2. Take legal steps against all the individuals, industries and factories concerned in air, soil and water pollution, taking stern legal steps against illegal grabbers of rivers, canals, lakes, wetlands and water reservoirs, forest grabbers and hill destroyers and form environmental courts, 3. Take effective steps in conservation of the forests including Sunderbans, the largest mangrove forests of the world and resist establishing Rampal coal based power plant and other industries in the adjoining areas of Sunderbans and put an end to passages of ships through within the Sunderbans, 4. Free the river banks of pertinent rivers like Buriganga, Shitlakhkhya, Karnaphuli and others from illegal encroachers.

Here we no more will elaborate on environmental provisions in election manifestos of each and every political party in Bangladesh as because many of them hardly mention about anything related to environment. Also we will not discuss about election manifestos of Islamic or other faith based (like Hinduism, Christianity or Buddism) parties.

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