Environmental Law

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Although Laws relating to environment can be traced to as early as the Penal Code of 1860, it is only during the last decade or so that we see major environment law reforms taking place in Bangladesh. With new development in the energy sector and rapid urbanization and industrialization, it is surely a pragmatic step to enact reforms at this point of time if not earlier. Needless to say, further development in this field is required before the Environmental Laws in Bangladesh is in a position to meet the need of the sector.

Roughly, the Environmental Laws can be categorized as follows:

  • A. Pollution
  • B. Occupational Hazard and Safety
  • C. Dangerous substances and Public protection
  • D. Displacement , Relief and Rehabilitation
  • E. Management of Land
  • F. Agricultural Resources Management
  • G. Water Resource Management
  • H. Fishery
  • I. Forestry
  • J. Wildlife
  • K. Energy and Mineral resources
  • L. Rural and Urban planning
  • M. Transportation and Safety
  1. Pollution

Various laws are in force to address the pollution of air, water and soil. Earliest legislation dealing with pollution of the environment is the Penal Code of 1860. It contains various provisions relating to the offences affecting the public health, safety and convenience and offences affecting human body and life through pollution in the environment. The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1989 also has provisions against occurrence of public nuisance through environmental hazard. The Smoke Nuisance Act, 1905 addresses the issue of abatement of nuisances arising from the smoke of furnaces or fire-places in certain areas in Bangladesh. Bangladesh Environmental Conservation Act, 1995 (ECA) is undoubtedly the flagship legislation in the environment sector. It deals exhaustively with the conservation of environment, improvement of environmental standards and control and mitigation of environmental pollution. It provides the de facto definition of ‘pollution’. Coupled with the Environmental Conservation Rules, 1997, the ECA has set a new standard for conservation of the environment. Conservation of Playing field, Open space, Garden and Natural Water Body Act, 2000 (enacted in Bengali) also contains provisions for environmental conservation. By the Environment Court Act 2000, a special court was established which now hears matters related to environment. It is to be noted that although the number of legislation dealing with environmental issues directly or indirectly is quite large, the case law is equally few and as such there is a general lack of direction.

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