Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Environmentalists concerned over alarming e-waste produce in Bangladesh

SALEEM SAMAD

Environmentalists, academics, researchers and social justice activists on Monday expressed grave concern over the illegal dumping of electronic wastes (e-wastes) in Bangladesh.

The concerned citizens have demanded of the government for a formulation of an integrated national policy, implementation and effective monitoring with the participation of the stakeholders.

E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in Bangladesh and has emerged as top lucrative business in the country, said Dr Hossain Shahriar of Environmental and Social Development Organizations (ESDO), an activist group.

Bangladesh is one of the highest e-waste generating countries in the world. It produces 2.7 million metric tons of e-waste, and notorious ship breaking industry alone produce 90 percent of the total wastes, according to the study by ESDO presented at the capital Dhaka on Monday.

An estimated 700 ships reaches its final destination in Bangladesh to die. The wastes from the electronic goods produced from the ship breaking yards in the Bangladesh southern coast, which comes as a curse, laments Dr Hossain.

The ship scrap carries huge volumes of toxic products, as well as electric and electronic wastes, which includes neon lamps and light bulbs, light switches, hundred miles of electric wires and tons of cables, besides kitchen and laundry appliances, television monitors and computers.

The tradeoff and trans-boundary movement does not address the critical environmental, social and economic impacts on an impoverished nation of 150 million, a size of Texas State.

Most importantly the country does not have the expertise, or the skills for e-waste management. Rather impromptu e-waste recyclers are the major culprits of environmental hazards. The recycling trade grew into largest suppliers of metal scraps for the booming construction industry and other spent fuels which has caused hazards on environment, health and life in the region, said Siddika Sultana Shika, executive director of ESDO.

Despite repeated higher court directives, Bangladesh authorities have failed to curb the environmental menace created by the ship breaking yards.

A weak legislation is to be blamed for the recycle industry’s notoriety. They enjoy wide political patronage of the government despite committing unabated environmental and social crimes.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow, is Bangladesh based award winning investigative reporter. He specializes on Islamic militancy, forced migration, good governance, press freedom and elective democracy. He was detained and tortured in 2002 and later expelled from Bangladesh in 2004 for whistle-blowing on the safe sanctuary offered to the Jihadists who fled during Anglo-US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Ending his life in exile in Canada he has recently returned home after six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com