: Environmental Issues
degradation and depletion of natural resources are
often observed in Bangladesh due to poverty, over-population
and lack of awareness on the subject. It is manifested
by deforestation, destruction of wetlands, depletion
of soil nutrients, etc. Natural calamities like
floods, cyclones and tidal-bores also result in
severe socio-economic and environmental damage.
Waterborne diseases such as cholera are a serious
threat to public health in Bangladesh. Until the
1970s, many of Bangladesh's people became sick from
drinking polluted water drawn from surface rivers.
Aid agencies such as the United Nations Children's
Fund (UNICEF) built shallow wells throughout the
country to help provide a safe source of drinking
water to Bangladesh's poor.
In the 1990s, however, it was discovered that many
of these wells were contaminated by arsenic, a poison
that occurs naturally in Bangladesh's alluvial soils.
The World Bank estimates that 25 percent of the
country's 4 million wells may be contaminated by
arsenic. In 1998 the World Bank granted Bangladesh
a $32.4 million credit to identify contaminated
wells and develop alternative sources of safe drinking
In recent years, the government has taken some important
steps towards protection of the environment, environmentally
sound use of natural resources and pollution control,
Adoption of National Environment Policy and formulation
of National Conservation Strategy and the National
Environment Management Action Plan are some of the
measures undertaken by the government to integrate
environment with development in a policy framework.
To take prompt legal action against environmental
pollution, the government has recently set up Environment
courts. The Environment Conservation Rules 1997
has also been passed by the Parliament. The Department
of Environment is taking measures to carry out surveys
on identification and control of polluting industries,
river pollution and automobile pollution.