National & International Environmental Laws and Regulations
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This report is concerned with the environmental laws, policies and regulations of both home and the international field. Here the policies of Bangladesh government are revealed to some extent to help to understand our stand in case of preservation and conservation of the natural resources as well as the environment. Through statistical help the policies are shown side by side the practical scenario of the country in case of environment awareness and safety control. Then we see some important international protocols such as Kyoto Protocol, The Boundary Waters Treaty etc. To understand more about the international scenario we take a special look into the USA and India’s policies and treaties. All together we get a clear picture about what is happening in the world and in our home regarding the environment. What are the policies we are taking up and what actually we are doing to protect and ensure healthier and safer environment.
We live in the harmony of nature; we are creatures of mother earth, mesmerized by nature. But the very beautiful and essential thing that we live in can become polluted due to our own mistakes. That is why all the laws, policies and regulations of the environment were originated from the human society to preserve which is more valuable than we can realize.
Environmental law is a complex and interlocking body of treaties (conventions), statutes, regulations, and common law that operates to regulate the interaction of humanity and the natural environment, toward the purpose of reducing the impacts of human activity(Wikipedia).These laws help to protect the different components of the environment and by doing that ensures the overall protection of environment. Why we need it:
Although most environmental laws raises topic of controversies and debate, we need to have a set of principles by following which we need to ensure the safety of nature for our own good. Natural environment is fragile and in need of special legal protections, the environmental laws are nothing g but the translation of that recognition into legal structures. Although strong laws often do not guaranty strong protection, we need to have some guidelines to at least follow through, that is why it is so important. National environmental policies:
We Bangladeshies also promote the nature and environment safety, although we are still a developing country. 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. 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. Roughly, the Environmental Laws can be categorized as follows:
* Occupational Hazard and Safety
* Dangerous substances and Public protection
* Displacement , Relief and Rehabilitation
* Management of Land
* Agricultural Resources Management
* Water Resource Management
* Energy and Mineral resources
* Rural and Urban planning
* Transportation and Safety (lawchronicles)
Objective of the government:
In the context of the environment, the Government of Bangladesh formulated an Environment Policy in 1992. The objectives of Environment Policy are to: * Maintain ecological balance and overall development through protection and
* Improvement of the environment;
* Protect the country against natural disasters;
* Identify and regulate activities which pollute and degrade the environment; * Ensure environmentally sound development in all sectors; * Ensure sustainable, long term and environmentally sound use of all national resources; and, * Actively remain associated with all international environmental initiatives to the maximum possible extent. (monash)
Laws/Acts/Policies of the government:
In order to ensure these objectives the government of Bangladesh has provided the people with many laws, acts and policies. Here a short list of Bangladesh environmental laws are provided- Year| Name of the law/act/policy| Nature of the law|
1995| The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act| An Act to provide for conservation of the environment, improvement ofEnvironmental standards and control and mitigation of environmental pollution.| 2000| The Environment Court Act| An Act to provide for the establishment of environment courts and matters incidental thereto.| 1997| The Environment Conservation Rules| A set of rules specifying the governments stand in terms of pollution, preservation and all other related issues| 1997| The Environment Pollution Control Ordinance| An Ordinance to provide for the control, prevention and abatement of pollution of the environment of Bangladesh.| 1970| The East Pakistan Water Pollution Control Ordinance| An Ordinance to provide for the control, prevention and abatement of pollution of waters of East Pakistan.| On process| Master plan for solid waste management for Dhaka city(On process)
A management plan which exclusively observes the waste management systems of Dhaka city and provides a guideline.| 2000| Open Space and Wetland Protection Act.| An act to manage the wetlands and open space space protection.| 2000| The Bangladesh Water Development Board Act| An Act with a view to ensure development and management of water resources by rescinding provisions of the Bangladesh Water and Power Development Boards Order of 1972 under the Bangladesh Water and Power Development Board| 1977| The Environment Pollution Control Ordinance| An Ordinance to provide for the control, prevention and abatement of pollution of the environment of Bangladesh.| (lexadin, Cambridge forecast group, Ministry of Environment and forest)
There are hundreds and thousands of laws such as City Corporation Acts/Ordinances, The Public Parks Act 1904, The Forest Act 1927, Motor Vehicles Act, 1939, Town Improvement act, 1950, The Building Construction Act 1952 etc. to help and support the promotion of healthy environment all over the country. The real scenario:
Currently, Bangladesh lacks proper implementation of environmental rules, regulations, acts, policy, standards, institutions, expertise, monitoring of environmental degradation and compliance with the environmental laws. Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), said, ‘in most of the cases, genuine people’s perspective are absent in the efforts of the government to enforce laws. Our fight is, in fact, to ensure people’s interests through enforcement of laws in general, and environmental laws in particular, by government machinery. For these reasons, we hold the government offices primarily responsible for lack in enforcement of laws. You would see that in legal battles, we make the government offices primary respondents for their lacking in enforcement of laws.
The private companies, who, in most of the cases, are violators of the law; generally remain the lower tier of the respondents, We do this because otherwise the government agencies, who are supposed to be there to enforce the law, somehow ‘manage’ to escape their duties. We have seen how the owner of a big private real estate company openly challenged the state minister regarding housing for about three years, because of a decision he made against the interest of the company. Unfortunately, we had also seen how the minister instructed the offices concerned to find ways to give a legal cover to illegal acts of the company! A minister cannot behave like that.’(New age) So what we need right now is the proper implementation of the existing policies and regularity comities to observe and maintain the successful implementation of the laws by the government as well as the private organizations. International environmental policies:
Increased interactions among nations, especially in the areas of trade and commerce, have led to a tightly knit global community. For the greater good of this community international policies had to be taken because we all share the same environment and suffer the consequences of disasters and hazards. As the climate is interlinked, we needed to be interlinked also. One of the first of these grand global conferences was the 1958 meeting of the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and over the next forty years it would be followed by several major attempts to unite the scores of nations of the world on key issues of diplomacy. (Global convention). One of the major International Environmental Agreements and Initiatives was in 1872 the Swiss government proposed an international commission to protect migratory birds. The law of the sea negotiations started out with a focus on navigation, although marine resources were never far below the surface of the agenda.
In fact, while pollution and fisheries disputes were important postwar motivators for the UN to call the conference, the aforementioned claim by Ecuador, Peru, and Chile in 1952 to a 200-mile band of territorial waters was one of the most important driving forces. (Global conventions) The resource issues, which at first seemed fairly straightforward, became increasingly difficult to solve. In 1958, one of the four conventions signed addressed fishing and conservation in territorial waters. But that same conference, and the second one in 1960, failed to come to terms for fishing beyond territorial seas, in part because they failed to agree on a definition of those seas.
Even after 1993, when the Law of the Sea Convention went into effect, fishing nations could not agree on regulating the seas beyond the new 200-mile economic zones. While treaties covering some regions and some species are open for signature, nothing has been completed, despite intense pressure from environmentalists to ban such practices as long-line fishing and drift-netting. The surprising incident of 1995, when Canadian warships fired on Spanish fishing vessels just outside of Canada’s 200-mile zone, suggests that some sort of law is needed to cover these contested fisheries. And yet, as of 2001, only twenty-nine nations, including the United States, had ratified the supplementary agreement managing straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. Since then a lot of famous treaties, acts and policies has been signed such as-
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), aimed at fighting global warming. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty with the goal of achieving the “stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Protocol was initially adopted on 11 December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, and entered into force on 16 February 2005. As of September 2011, 191 states have signed and ratified the protocol. (Wikipedia) Boundary Waters Treaty:
The Boundary Waters Treaty, signed in 1909, established the International Joint Commission (IJC). The Treaty includes the requirement that neither country should cause water pollution in its water which will cause injury to health or property in the other country. The IJC assists by implementing the Boundary Waters Treaty, and settling water issues between the two countries. In 1988, the IJC expanded to include protecting covered watersheds, migratory fisheries, and their habitats. There are many protocols like the Montreal protocol, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty etc. So we will only focus on the major countries issues such as the USA and India. If we understand the policy of different countries we will be able to get a more or less global picture of the international environmental situations. USA Protocols:
To understand the country’s position in the case of environment we need to look at the major policies/act that this nation believes in. Some of them are enlisted here- Year| Name of the law/act/policy| Nature of the law|
1954| Atomic Energy Act| The act establishes a general regulatory structure for construction and use of nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons facilities.| 1970| Clean Air Act| Sets goals and standards for the quality and purity of air in the United States.| 1972| Clean Water Act| Establishes and maintains goals and standards for U.S. water quality and purity.| 1972| Coastal Zone Management Act| Provides a partnership structure allowing states and the federal government to work together for the protection of U.S. coastal zones from environmentally harmful overdevelopment.| 1990| Oil Pollution Act| This law streamlines federal response to oil spills by requiring oil storage facilities and vessels to prepare spill-response plans and provide for their rapid implementation.| 1976| Fisheries Conservation and Management Act| Governs the management and control of U.S. marine fish populations, and is intended to maintain and restore healthy levels of fish stocks and prevent overharvesting.| 1974| Safe Drinking Water Act| Establishes drinking water standards for tap water safety, and requires rules for groundwater protection from underground injection|
To understand the country’s position in the case of environment we need to look at the major policies/act that this nation believes in. Some of them are enlisted here- year| Act/Policy/Law| Nature of the law|
1927| Indian Forest Act| Developed procedures for setting up and protection of reserved forests, protected forests, and village forests| 1972| Wildlife Protection Act| Formalization of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, conservation reserves and community reserves. Protection to habitat and wildlife within premises of such protected areas.| 1980| Forest (Conservation) Act, | stating that: No State Government or other authority shall make any order directing- * (i) that any reserved forest shall cease to be reserved; * (ii) that any forest land or any portion thereof may be used for any non-forest purpose; * (iii) that any forest land or any portion thereof may be assigned by way of lease or otherwise to any private person or to any authority, corporation, agency or any other organization not owned, managed or controlled by Government;|
So as we can see that countries like USA, India put emphasis on atomic energy, coastal zone management, wildlife conservation, forest conservation etc. We can learn a lot from their policies that what is important and how it can be prioritized.
No matter how many laws and policies we make, if we cannot ensure the proper implementation of those policies, the whole thing will be in vain. Laws are made to be followed and as responsible citizens it is our responsibility to know about them as well as follow them. The government should be more concerned with the implementation, awareness and introduction of new and well- fitted regulations. The world is ours, if we want to live in it our way, we have to respect the system of nature and follow a systematic way.
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