Within capitalist framework the corporate globalization has widened gap between rich-poor, urban-rural, and men-women. Under the domination of market economy poor have lost their access to natural resources as well as food. People are also loosing their control over natural resources due to the market domination mechanism. The availability of agricultural inputs does not depend on production but on private and multinational companies.
It is needed to look for a society based on equity, justice, non-discrimination, and human rights. We live in a society based on unfair and unjust discriminatory mechanism led by rich and powerful. Resource has become curse for a poor country alike Bangladesh. Rich nations, their allay International Financial Institutions (IFIs), and transnational corporations have exploited natural resources and at the same time depriving marginal people. Land owners, land mafias, political mafias, and these foreign invaders have occupied major part of the resources. In fact, people are poor because they do not have access to resources because they do not own resources such as land, water bodies, khas land, and beels because local and international wealthy groups have occupied their resources through out the decades. Thus, poor were not born as poor. They are made poor by the wealthy groups because these capitalists’ agents have looted and robbed poor people’s resources. A civilized society believing the norms and standard of human values, equity, and human rights should not behave like this way. Then a question may arise, where the dreamed society that gives her citizens access to natural resources.
Majority rural poor of Bangladesh depend on Natural Resources (NR) for their livelihoods. Land, water, forests, and live stocks are the sources of livelihoods. The rural economy depends on productivity of the natural resources. Small trade and manufacturing process can not replace dependency over agricultural and natural resources. The country lacks institutional frame-work in terms of Natural Resource Management (NRM), which has resulted a chaos and conflict over NRs and eventually poor and marginal people do not have access to. People have been loosing their entitlement to these resources. On the hand, degradation of land and other resources along with bio-diversity and eco-system are the prime concern for the entire population in Bangladesh.
WTO and IFIs through their policies have shaped up the food production, distribution, role of farmers, and the natural resources in the country. These institutions are systematically destroying the agricultural productivity and food sovereignty of developing countries. Consequently, farmers’ livelihood is threatened as well as biodiversity and agricultural heritage. 840 million people suffer from hunger and malnutrition though the world has the capacity to feed her people. Thus, a question may arise, why natural resources are inaccessible by the poor? This is a social and political crisis. The basic problem lies within the control and management of natural resources. Awareness and awakening is needed from and within people to make sure access to natural resources,. “Political will” is also needed and except that conflict over resources may not be resolved.
The growing concern is access to NRs by poor people locally and globally. According to WWF, the land area of productive land and sea required providing the resources we use and to absorb our waste is around 14.1 billion global hectares or 2.2 global hectares per person while the total supply of productive area or bio-capacity is only 11.2 billion global hectares, or 1.8 global hectares per person. Wealthy group of people across the world are now pioneer with regard to exploiting NRs. Transnational corporations, WB, IMF, ADB, and their allies oil, gas, and coal mining companies have practiced extreme exploitation of natural resources across the world. Thus, the wealthy groups are benefiting by violating rights of the oppressed. And marginal people are deprived of natural resources every where.
Multinational corporations are intervening agriculture of developing nations with hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which seriously causes damage to land fertility as well as eliminating traditional agricultural practices. Thus, corporate companies, WTO-IMF, and their rich allies have wiped out traditional farmers on the corporate chase pool of modernity.
Local culture, economy, and political atmosphere are crushing within the conflicting circle of capitalist globalization. IFIs, donors, and transnational corporations are looting the resources of poor countries in many ways in the disguise of globalization. People need to be united and should move against these agencies
The aims of this research are:
(i) To have an overview on natural resources: valuable data and information about land, water, forest, fisheries, oil, gas, and coal could help to synthesize the overview.
(ii) To determine disastrous factors involved changing bio-diversity and destruction of ecology: Some case studies are mentioned here as evidences, which could help us to see the real picture of ecological disaster in the context of Bangladesh.
The research has studied secondary data and information.
Literature review: This research carefully examines some existing reports and study on natural resources in Bangladesh. The literature review also includes policy papers, declaration, and conventions on natural resources, bio-diversity, and ecology.
Newspaper: Information, data, and case studies are studied and compiled. Both Bengali and English daily newspapers are studied for seeking information and data. The daily news papers selected for this purpose are The Somokal, The New Age, The Financial express, The Independent, and The Daily Star.
Internet sources: information and data on natural resources are collected, compiled, and analyzed for this research. Internet sources include research paper, reports, workshop outputs, and information published in the web sites.
This research deliberately searches the link between corporate globalization and its negative impact over natural resources as well as ecology in Bangladesh. Very few researches are available to focus this missing link. Therefore, the research is unique in terms of locating the root causes of ecological destruction and its linkage to IFIs and multinational corporations over. The research also highlights the gap between policy and practice on natural resources in Bangladesh. Therefore, the research points finger to wealthy business groups and political mafias who deprive marginal people locally and internationally in many disguise. Most of the study and research on NRs focus on superficial problems, poverty, gender, and scientific measure of resource degradation. This research gives special attention to find the root causes and to find the actors who are responsible for NRs crisis.
A. An overview of land, water, and natural resources of Bangladesh
Every one is entitled to natural resources
Human rights from human centric perspective enshrine every one’s access to natural resources. Corporate globalization leads to unjust and undemocratic socio-economic order where the poor and marginalized are loosing power and at the same time are lacking access to natural resources. People do not have decision-making power over resources due to lack of enabling environment. As a result, poverty situation is worsening. Corporate powers manipulate globalization for their own profit. These powers own the largest proportion of world’s resources. Scenario is same in the context of Bangladesh.
Natural resources are the common resources where every one should have equal access. Due to the unequal social structure rich people usually control the resources and poor are deprived off. Thus, poor is not poor by predetermined fate but they are poor because of lack of access to natural resources.
The policies on the natural resources are framed through bureaucratic process and often follow the doctrines of colonial land policies that serve the benefit of the rich and powerful. As the poor have no access, the policies rule over the poor and their access by default are ignored.
Over exploitation of resources create climate hazard where people become the victims in the hand of corporate. Natural resources should not be used for profit only. Resource justice is an important aspect, which ensures rights and justice. Claiming rights over natural resources makes poor enabled to earn their livelihoods.
Unjust Land Resources
The total Geographical area of Bangladesh is about 56,000 square miles. (143,998 square kilometer) Out of which about 9 million hectares are cultivable land. A government survey finds that total cropped land is nearly 14.1 million hectares including single, double and triple cropping land. It is estimated that the growing population pressure will use up 50 per cent of the country’s cultivable land by 2025[i].
Every person working in the agriculture sector now owns only an average of 0.12 hectares of cropland. According to the classification of land, out of the total area, 63 per cent are being used for cultivation while 4.38 per cent for rural and urban housing and the rest includes forest & cultivable waste land[ii].
Out of the total amount of identified Khas land of 3.3 million acres, only a tiny part has so far been distributed to the poor who face multifaceted difficulties in both obtaining and retaining land. Most Khas land, identified or un-identified, are illegally occupied by the rich segments of the society who are part of the power structure[iii].
Out of this 3.3 million acres 0.8 million acres are agricultural land, 1.7 million acres are non-agricultural land and 0.8 million acres are water-bodies[iv].
Indigenous peoples from eleven different ethno-linguistic groups have been living in the region for many centuries. Chittagong Hill Tract is mostly occupied by different tribal communities. Some other indigenous communities are living across the country.
Agriculture remains the main form of livelihood for CHT residents. Rice, with an agricultural yield of 0.90 Mt, is grown on 43.3% of the total cultivated land (0.19 M ha). A variety of fruits are grown with success, such as banana, pineapple, and jackfruit (Ullah 2002).
The CHT has an area of 13,180 km , making up about 10% of the total area of Bangladesh. Compared to the low-lying floodplains that characterize most of Bangladesh, the topography of the CHT is quite steep, with over 70% of the land at a slope greater than 40%. The soils are characterized by low fertility. Kyokra-Dong, the highest peak of Bangladesh (1,230 meter) is in the southern tip of the Rangamati district, near the borders of India and Myanmar. The largest river in the CHT, the Karnaphuli River, was dammed in 1962 for development of hydroelectric power, flooding an area of about 68,000 ha, to become what is today Kaptai Lake. The Karnaphuli, Feni, Chengi, Maini, Kassalong, Sangu and Matamuhuri Rivers carve the six main valleys in the CHT[v].
Landlord and land mafias
More or less all state-owned lands including 3.3 million acres of khas lands & new lands surfaced from the rivers & sea are occupied by the land grabbers, land mafias & terrorists under the patronage of former governments in power living in both rural & urban areas of Bangladesh.
Poor people’s access
According to government report[vi] 57% people of Bangladesh are landless poor & they live below poverty level. But Non-Government sources say that the number of landless people in Bangladesh is more than 68%. They live in perpetual poverty, hunger, disease and deprivation. The percentage of landless poor has increased for last couple of decades.
1947 : 14.3%
1970 : 19.8%
1975 : 32%
1984 : 46%
2001 : 68.8%
According to Dr. Mahboob Hossain & Prof. Abdul Byes, 45% of the landless & poor marginalized peasants in the rural areas own only 5% of the total cultivable land of Bangladesh and receives 10% needed credit from institutional sources.
Land occupy by the rich
22% of the rich & middle farmers of rural areas of Bangladesh own 71% of the total land & receive 31% institutional credit.
Land occupied in Dhaka
About 15% of the land in Dhaka is owned by 2% of the upper class elite of this metropolis, 28% middle class families own 65% of the residential areas and 70% poor families own only 20% of the residential areas. Most of the lands owned by the poor families are of poor quality in the outskirts & depressed areas.
As a result 69% of our people are landless, labourers, workers, slum dwellers and are forced to live in perpetual poverty, hunger, malnutrition & deprivation. The increasing population in the country is increasingly demanding natural resources for their survival. As Lewis Smith notes, each person needs 21.9 hectares of the Earth’s surface to supply their needs whereas, it was calculated, the Earth’s biological capacity is 15.7 hectares per person. Bangladesh is densely most populated country in the world. Therefore, this calculation could remind us how our country is dangerously exploiting natural resources.
Densely populated country faces serious problem of control and conflict over resources. Lands are occupied by commercial establishment, road network, urban development, forestry, fishing etc. rest of the land used for crop production and homesteads. Bangladesh is a country of about 143,999 sq. km including inland and estuarine water surfaces. Over 58% people are functionally landless in Bangladesh. About 17.8 million acres are cultivated land and average household farm (those who have farm land) size is 1.5 acre[vii].
Over utilization of land reduces fertility of land for meeting increasing demand of food. In addition, utilization of chemical fertilizer and pesticides hampers fertility besides polluting water and creating health hazards. Thus, eco-system is also hampered by the excessive utilization of land. The increasing demand for urbanization motivates unplanned infrastructural development at rural areas. River bank erosion and siltation are other cases for land degradation. Natural and man-made both causes are involved in this process. A study found symptoms of land degradation such as Depletion of organic matter, Nutrient deficiency, Acidification, Salinization, Soil compaction, Plough pan formation, Overgrazing, Deforestation of hilly land, Shifting cultivation without adequate fallow periods, Water logging, and Accelerated erosion.
Unjust Water Resources
Water bodies: Inland water bodies: rivers and estuaries 1031563 ha., Beels 114161 ha., Kaptai Lake 68800 ha., Flood lands 2832792 ha., Ponds 230000 ha., Baors 5488 ha., Shrimp farms 141353 ha.[viii]
There are two aspects of surface and ground water: i) availability and ii) quality. The availability depends on monsoon climate, upstream flow, and consumption. Quality of surface water is deteriorated by chemicals, pesticides, and pollutants from factories. Water crisis occurs due to low rain fall, densely population, and agricultural, industrial, and urban needs. In one hand, there is scarcity of water during dry season. On the other hand, overflow of water is observed during monsoon. These two extreme situations create livelihood crisis and sufferings to the poor people. In addition, saline water from sea invades inland areas and degrades quality of surface and ground water as well as decrease fertility and increase salinity of soil.
The ground water level has downed at Rajshahi and Bogura District for last 15 years. Many hand and machine driven tube wells are malfunctioning due to this problem. Experts say, if this continues, water shortage and even land slide could occur in the coming time (The Somokal, 04.05.07, p 12). We have used excessive ground water and have not found other alternatives of that, which caused today’s crisis. Scientists say that due to lack of rain fall and the drying up of river Padma are two important reasons for ground water crisis in the region. It also indicates the change in ecology and biodiversity due to manipulation of upstream flow of Padma by the Farakka dam. India had always been cruel in terms sharing Gangas water and the obvious impact is the dying Padma.
Severe water crisis was observed in Dhaka and nearby areas in the recent time, which is an alarm for city dwellers. Tube wells could not pump out water because the ground water level has gone down. A research says that, ground water layer under Dhaka city was lowered around 20 miters during 1996-2003. In 1996, the layer was at 26.6 meters and in 2003 the layer became 46.6 meter. It is assumed that the water layer is further lowered at 52 meters. This is not just happening under Dhaka city but also across the country. Thus, in one hand ground water layer is going down, on the other hand, due to global warming 67% ice of Himalaya is melting down. Under such as a circumstances monsoon could be the only source of water in the country but climate change could also uncertain the monsoon.
Government of Bangladesh has adopted National Water Policy in 1999 with a goal for proper utilization and conservation of water resources. This policy paper has declared water as “fundamental human rights”. The policy urges strong participation from citizens at all levels to make sure right to water. Article 2 (b) stresses on availability of water for poor and underprivileged community and gives special attention to women and children.
Fish is important source of protein for people in this country. The country has many rivers, canals, haors, baors, beels, and ponds, which are resources for culturing fish and eventually meeting protein needs. Sea is another huge source for fish and marine resources. Many medium and small-scale fisheries have grown with regard to these NRs. Unfortunately, due to lack of institutional care fisheries in Bangladesh is at risk. According to a BCAS report, several decades ago there was an abundance of fish in this country but recently, capture fish production has declined to about 50 per cent, with a negative trend of 1.24 per cent per year.
Loss of aquatic habitats happened for installing various physical infrastructures such as dam. Many inland water bodies are dried up. A study found that Flood Control Drainage and Irrigation (FCDI) projects contributed to the decline of fish stocks and fisheries by creating obstacles in the fish migration routes. As a consequence, fish production has declined. In addition, farmers use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which have devastated fish culture in a wider scale. According to IUCN 2000 report, out of 266 inland fish species 12 are critically endangered, 28 are endangered, 14 are vulnerable. Transnational corporations have done aggressive business of these chemicals across the country. Thus, the concepts of sustainable agriculture and its organic nature are wiped out by the corporate greed.
There is an estimated 2.52 million ha. of forest land which is about 17.08 percent of the total land area of the country. Out of this total forestland the government owns 2.25 million ha as classified and unclassified forests and 0.27 million ha is owned privately.
Today the world has less than 4 billion hectares of forest covering 30 percent of the earth’s land surface. Deforestation continues at an alarming high rate. About 13 million hectares of primary forests are lost or modified each year due to deforestation and other human activities.
The forest is not adequate according to the need of the country. Still many groups rely on this for livelihoods. Large reserved forests are the reserve forests such as Sundarbans, Chittagong region, and Madhupur tracts. And there are some protected forests across the country besides reserved forests. Inhabitants of reserved forests do not have rights over forests products but the inhabitants of protected forests have some rights. In the present context indigenous people and tribes who are the inhabitants of some forests do not have scope to live in harmony with the forest. Increasing commercial approach has been depleting natural forests and has introduced the process of deforestation. Thus, the people have been cutting down their future potential to meet the need and greed of the present.
Bangladesh is a cyclone prone country and the country has been encountering dangerous cyclone for many decades. Scientists say that the frequency of cyclone will be higher because of climate change. Sundarban acted as a shield to protect the devastating impact of Sidr in the resent time. Therefore, deforestation not only come up with livelihood crisis but also increase death toll at cyclones.
B. Negative impact of lack of appropriate NRM:
Political will of government, people’s ownership, and participation are the ways to combat conflict over natural resources. Unless the government and people work together to solve this problem, an upsetting future is just waiting. If greed, corruption, and looting are driving force; local elites and foreign invaders will continue exploiting NRs. The damage and loss could be irreversible. According to a BCAS report some important constraints regarding access and entitlement to resources are:
· The economic systems based on high rates of resources consumption, environmentally damaging trade practices and lack of environmental accounting;
· Widespread poverty and unsustainable development efforts;
· Women’s inequity and the large unmet need for quality reproductive healthcare and family planning;
· Lack of educational, employment and income opportunity;
· Under-utilization of environmentally sound and locally appropriate technology; and
· Lack of people’s participation in resources management; and
· Inadequate understanding of people about the natural systems (Huq et al, 2000).
Some negative impacts of proper NRM could be understandable in the context of Bangladesh. The press had always been and still is conscious about the exploitation of natural resources in the country. Academics and researcher show noteworthy evidences in this connection too, which means people are aware about the fact. Two questions may arise i) why government and people’s force can not combat devastating issue such as Farakka Dam, Tipai Dam, Fulbaria coal mine, Shrimp culture, and so on caused by India, Asia Energy, and World Bank? ii) Why people and government can not combat local land lords, land mafias, and political mafias who are involved in destroying natural resources? Article 4.12 (d) of National Water Policy, 1999, notes to protect haors, baors, and beels water bodies from man made and other hazards. These water bodies have to be reactivated with proper care.
i) Cholon Beel
There are many water bodies, which could generate more income. For example, we could generate Tk. 400 crore from Cholon beel per year (The Somokal, 18.12.07, p 10). It is possible to produce 2 lac. M.T. fish through systematic and planned fish culture in this beel. The market price of this fish is Tk. 200 crore. Some group of people have occupied water bodies and Khas land illegally and they are united to resist Cholon beel development project. Experts say that if these lands could be distributed among land less farmers and water bodies among fishing community, it could improve income and lives of these marginal people. There is also prospect to develop this beel as Eco Park or eco beel. This is an example of a potential beel, which is left unplanned. Thus, access to natural resources means that marginal farmers and fishermen could get access to to the resources of the beel.
ii) Hybrid seeds a catastrophe for bio-diversity
According to The New Age (25.05.07, p3), massive expansion of hybrid seeds replacing local rice varieties has caused the widespread sterility problem. A recent study has found that local varieties such as Lahaiya, Jagli, and Rata do not have sterility problem. Use of HYVs has threatened traditional crop pattern and ecological diversity. Especially wealthier strata of the society are very much involved in HYVs and have introduced this catastrophic sterility problem. HYV and hybrid varieties account for country’s 60% of arable land for rice cultivation. These varieties have been gradually eliminating country’s 15,000 traditional varieties. This is a gradual elimination of bio diversity.
Man made disaster
According to The Somokal (20.09.07, p3), some illegal shrimp culture is happing in Koyra Upazila. A group of people collecting saline water piping and penetrating dam at coastal areas. There are 800 man made leakages in the dam. Around 4000 illegal shrimp culture is found in this area. Some leakages caused erosion of dam and eventually it has flooded some areas. Local elites and corrupt official of government administration are profiting from these illegal activities. Plants are dying; there is no future prospect for cropping, Livestock and poultries are declining, people have suffered from stomach disease and skin rash. The aggression of shrimp culture by the powerful elites is almost irresistible by local government administration. Unless the government is concerned and resists these activities, there is no way out to stop the devastation of ecology at the coastal belt of Bangladesh.
WB and IMF has encouraged and funded shrimp culture in the coastal region. In 1972 the Chokoria Sundarban occupied 19390 acre land, which is reduced to 4072 in 1985 (Stolen Forest). The declining Sundarban and increasing shrimp field could be compared from satellite picture. Similarly, rubber cultivation and pulp wood have destroyed Segun trees in the Hill tract.
The aggression of tobacco cultivation has created sterility of the land in the Northern part of the country beside cutting trees for creating cultivable land for tobacco. An Ubenig study found that land in Kustia district has lost fertility. Tobacco companies are now looking to cultivate land near the river Mata Muhuri and some land in Hill tracts. These companies cut trees and use woods to burn tobacco. It is estimated that 960 to 1000 trees are burnt for 1200 kg tobacco at each season.
Flood causes damages to water resources in Bangladesh along with loss of crops, livestock, infrastructure, and livelihood. After the independence the major flood occurred in 1974, 1987, 1988, 1998, 2007. This recurrent natural disaster usually paralyzes the country, which is a challenge for the people and government as well.
Natural disaster is a curse for natural resources of a poor country alike Bangladesh. Sources of pure drinking water for 22 lac. people in 4 coastal districts have been destroyed. Pond waters are polluted by saline water and dead bodies of human and lives stocks. Hundreds of tube wells are broken as well as defected due to cyclone.
iv) Dams on the upstream of rivers are drying up Bangladesh
Tipaye Dam is going to be the death trap for North-eastern zone of Bangladesh. India is going to install dam on its river Borak. Rivers of north-eastern zone will be dried up sooner. Draught during summer and flood during monsoon will be disastrous phenomenon. Irrigation, fisheries, and river communication will be severely damaged. This Tipaye dam will have negative impact over bio-diversity and ecology of the haor areas of north east part of the country. The seven districts of this haor area use to produce 25 lac. M.T. rice each year. In addition, more than 2 lac. M.T. fish is naturally produced and collected from haors, baors, and beels of this area. Thus, many rivers and their branches are drying up. Ecology of this area is already at risk. Tipaye dam will confirm the death of these rivers. There will be scarcity of both surface and ground water. A riverine land will simply transform into a desert.
In 1964, US funded for Kaptai hydroelectric plant. This project had flooded 250 km land. Near about 1 lac. indigenous people had lost their homes and lands. This plant is a major source of power supply in the country but some areas of indigenous communities have not received electric. If power supply is an indicator of so-called development, the indigenous community is not developed from that view point.
There is a world’s biggest haor in Bangladesh name Hakaluki. It is unfortunate and a good example too that as a nation we can not take care our resources. A group of greedy people has been systematically destroying the haor for fishing. Bio-diversity in this area is in danger. According to The Somokal (20.04.07), local administration had seized some water pump machines and fishing nets in the haor area. There are government khas land around the haor. Due to lack of care part of the haor areas transformed into khas land. Fish species are wiping out from the haor due to these overwhelming fishing activities. According to sources, 30- 40 beels exist out of 300 beels of Hakaluki haor. The rest of beels are filled and transformed into dry desert.
Boro Pukuria Coal mine
According to news sources, land slide happened at 4 hectares land and cracks are found in 27 houses. Residents close to the cola mine are panicked. local people in the area are anxious about bigger disaster in the future. A total 1 thousand 50 hectares land is allocated for this mining project. The poisonous gas out of the mine already has threatened lives of people as well as ecology in the area.
Fulbaria Coal mine
The Asian Energy is making hundreds crores of money at share market in London showing the coal mine in Bangladesh. After the local people’s movement and protest against Asia Energy, government had signed an agreement with people on August 30, 2006. The condition was to expel Asia Energy from Bangladesh and to receive compensation from them. Unfortunately none of the conditions are fulfilled.
vii) Bio-diversity is in danger due to commercialization
Bangladesh still has a sound environment for different species such as fish, bird, insects, and so on. Commercial exploitation is wiping out some species. Commercial traders are not concern about the conservation and production of the species at all. Some traders have exported frog legs and some traders exploiting reptiles for bones and skin. These traders are making profit from the increasing demand of these items. This over exploitation also led imbalances in bio-diversity. These species and insects play important role in agriculture and fisheries. Thus, loss of bio-diversity is a threat for productivity in agriculture and fisheries. Sundarban mangrove forest is very resourceful for habitants including various animals, birds, and plants. The absence of strong institutional policies and actions are unfortunate with regard to the necessity for conservation.
According to a report of The Somokal, 2.5 lac people of Koyra Upazila are suffering from salinity. Plants are dying, paddy is not growing, homestead is being destroyed, and livestock are dying. Deep tub wells are not able to pump out pure drinking water from the ground. Growing Shrimp culture is partly responsible for this wider scale damage of livelihoods, bio-diversity, and ecology in the coastal areas. And local business and political elites are responsible for these shrimp cultures. Article 4.9 (f) mentions that aquaculture at saline water should be restricted by government within a given territory. Thus, the government and people together can stop WB, local elites, and business mafias with regard to this article.
According to India Today, 1997, India has withdrawn between 60,000 to 80,000 cusecs of water from the Ganges leaving a relatively low flow for Bangladesh. The consequences of this have been severe for Bangladesh, where the salinity front has moved some 280 km upstream from the coast and salinity levels in the surface water have increased from 500 µmho to 29000 µmho at Khulna in April, exceeding the safe limit by several times. The groundwater salinity has also increased from 200 µmho to about 3000 µmho in the region during the Farakka period and there is some evidence that the Sunderbans, one of the world’s largest mangrove forest, is suffering due to increased salinity in the estuarine rivers flowing through it. (Chadwick, Policy Review Paper)
viiI) Aggression of multi national companies for agricultural productivity
The country needs more agricultural productivity to feed its increased population. There is little scope to extend arable areas for cultivation. Thus, the challenge is to have increased production from limited land. Multiple cropping and irrigation technique could be adapted in this connection. Still it this leads to over exploitation of soil. Organization and institutional support mechanism is not state of the art to keep maintaining traditional sustainable agricultural method. Multinational corporations are very much active to sell their products such as chemical fertilizers and GMOs with a false promise for higher production. Farmers are perplexed about how to produce more crops within limited land. They believe prescribed commercial approaches for higher agricultural produces.
Multinational companies are selling chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the rural market of Bangladesh. These chemicals pollute both ground and surface water. Farmers do not practice traditional organic techniques for cropping. Multinational corporations have washed brains of farmers to promote their product and to make profit. Excessive usage of chemical has also degraded bio-diversity and ecological balance. The articles 4.7 (e) of the National Water Policy, 1999, has urged to control chemical usage as well as control the pollution out of the chemical usage. Having a policy paper is worthless unless change happens on the ground through enacting laws to practice it.
Bangladesh has signed, ratified, accepted and acceded to CITES, World Heritage Convention, Ramsar Convention, CBD, Climate Change Convention and Convention to Combat Desertification. Thus it adheres and commit to the conservation of biodiversity and the environment.
Bangladesh signed the Biodiversity Convention at Rio on 5 June 1992 and ratified on 3 May 1994. Now, various departments are responsible for conservation of bio-diversity. The government has a plan to prepare separate policy for bio-diversity. However, in the mean time, Bangladesh has prepared National Conservation Strategy (NCS) and the National Environment Management Action Plan (NEMAP).
1) Land should be reformed by proper distributive justice. Khas lands need to be distributed among landless poor. Access to land should enshrined by policies.
2) Access to water bodies such as beel, haors, and baors should be guaranteed by the rural poor. Right to safe drinking water has to be ensured for the citizens. Utilization of rain water could be developed to stop overwhelming demand on ground water.
3) Conservation of forest is an immediate need by stopping deforestation. Government has to activate the existing laws or to enact special laws for forest conservation. Plantation of hazardous tress for forestation is a fool’s effort. Programs have to be undertaken to plant eco-friendly tress forestation.
4) Government should necessary steps with regard to National Fisheries Policy (1998) importance of conserving fish breeding grounds and habitats, especially in relation to water management infrastructure such as flood control, irrigation and drainage projects.
5) Government should strictly prohibit overwhelming shrimp culture and to cut WB influence over shrimp production.
6) Government along with people’s participation should revisit policies on energy resources such as oil, gas, and coal and stop intervention of foreign companies in this regard. Government should also collect compensation money from foreign companies and compensate habitants of the project areas.
7) Government should take immediate steps for the conservation of ecology and bio-diversity. Environmental Conservation Act of February 1995 along with other policies that are concern about ecology. Government should find the local and foreign actors who violate rights and livelihood of the marginal people. In addition, government needs to make sure enabling atmosphere for marginal people to get access to natural resources
[i] for detail see the report, “Needs for land and agrarian reform”, prepared by ARBAN
[iii] Rahman M., 2001
[v] for detail see CHARM project report 1, 2006.
[vii] BCAS 2002
[viii] BBS 2000