South Asia

Published: Wednesday 31 August 2005

Polluted fabric: Most textile factories in and around Bangladesh's capital Dhaka do not comply with environmental laws and cause severe pollution, the Bangladesh government's Directorate of Environment (DoE) detected recently. Five DoE inspection teams visited 90 factories in Tejgon, Mirpur, Abdullahpur, Gazipur, Sreepur, Rupnagar, and Kaliakoir over five days. A senior DoE official was quoted as saying that these factories were found causing considerable air and water pollution. Cases were filed against 68 of them under the country's Environment Conservation Act, 1995 (ECA), and Environment Conservation Rules, 1997. "This is just the beginning, we will inspect factories all over the country," said Farid Ahmad, DoE deputy director. "The Directorate formed two committees, which are currently preparing a database of the country's factories."

Factory owners defended themselves, saying their factories were established long before ECA was framed. They demanded more time for compliance. Meanwhile, the government has decided to form a committee, comprising governmental and non-governmental representatives, to oversee environmental compliance in the industry.

Ethanol freeze: Pakistan's budding industrial alcohol and ethanol industry is in trouble following the imposition of heavy import duties on their products by European nations. On July 26, 2005, Chaudhry Zaka Ashraf, chairperson, Pakistan Sugar Mills Association, urged the government to formulate a strategy to avoid losses.

"Pakistan was fast approaching the threshold of technological advancement where ethanol, a bi-product of sugar, could be used as a fuel in cars and transport...," Zaka was quoted as saying. He praised president Pervez Musharraf's decision to encourage investment in molasses-based distilleries for producing low cost ethanol as an alternative fuel. But now investment in such distilleries may be suspended and the production halted, he feared. Zaka believes a 'mafia' of international importers of molasses is behind the move, for it wants Pakistan to merely remain a raw molasses exporter.

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