06/22/2015, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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For Bangladeshi Catholics and environmentalists, ‘Laudato si’ should inspire the government

by Sumon Corraya
Pope Francis’s encyclical shows the right path to protect the world we live in. Green technologies and respect for existing rules and laws should help businesses. The Catholic Church favours human life against abortion. Cycling could cut air pollution and traffic in the city.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis’ ‘Laudato si’ encyclical shows the right path to protect the world we live in. For some Catholic leaders and environmentalists who spoke to AsiaNews, the papal document deals with problems caused by the excessive exploitation of natural resources by an unrestrained and pervasive scientific attitude. As such, they require the world’s ecological conversion.

The current environmental crisis calls on Bangladesh and the world to re-focus on the protection of creation, which God has entrusted to us. In the South Asian nation, the environment has in fact become a major issue because of its impact on public health and social development.

The biggest challenges are air and water pollution, noise and solid waste, and soil contamination. This is especially true in the capital Dhaka, which is one of the most polluted cities in the world.

Population growth, urbanisation, industrialisation and the rapid growth in traffic, poor sanitation systems and inefficient solid waste management are the main cause of environmental damage in the city.

The government has taken some steps to improve pollution controls, but they are not enough. More has to be done, environmentalist GM Jahangir Alam told AsiaNews.

This should include new environmental technologies and methods, like the Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing and environmental impact assessment environment.

Similarly, the authorities should adopt formal and informal methods of education, and use local media, seminars, celebrations, workshops, walks and student competitions to raise awareness about the process of environmental degradation.

"The government,” he said, “should implement the appropriate measures to monitor emissions and Market Based Incentives (MBI) in order to reduce pollution.”

“It should also give technical and financial support to industry to recycle, adopt green technologies, and phase in less polluting technologies.”

Finally, "the 1997 Environmental Conservation rules and other relevant laws should be enforced to protect the environment and punish those who violate emission limits."

Dr Edward Pallab Rozario is a Catholic physician and Caritas Bangladesh health coordinator. For him, the Catholic Church plays a leading role in the protection of creation. In particular, it is against the killing of embryos and abortion.

"We try to make people understand that killing a life in a mother’s womb is sin,” said the doctor. “We absolutely oppose anyone who wants to have an abortion, and advise them to change the decision he made. In every diocese, seminars are organised for Catholic doctors and nurses and the values ​​of the Catholic religion are taught."

“If we want to save the environment God gave us, we must develop a sustainable environment. We cannot protect our earth through killings and persecution,” said the physician, who is secretary of the Association of Bangladesh Catholic Doctors (ABCD), which includes more than 100 Catholic doctors and medical students.

Finally, Ridwan Quaium, an organiser of country’s prominent cycling group BDcyclist, said that government should formulate a national policy for cycling.

“The commuting distance of many people in Dhaka can be easily covered by cycling, but due to the unsafe cycling environment these people use modes other than cycling, mostly motorised transport, which causes traffic congestion” he said. 

Hence, “the government might consider formulating a national policy for cycling and take steps to improve the cycling environment in Dhaka,” he added.

This could be done “by providing bicycle lanes and safe bicycle parking areas. In the long run, this may help reduce traffic congestion and make the city more liveable and trendy”.

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