Environmental Regulations and their Socio-Economic Impacts on Bangladesh Mohsin R. Siddique
Only recently Bangladesh has started to undertake the task of creating necessary institutions for the protection of the environment in earnest. Like the modern democratic state, which first appeared in the West in response to popular demand for a role in the decision making process establishing parameters of collective living, the emerging environmental ethics is also a product of a similar phenomenon. Based mostly on an intuitive sense of the inherent limits implied in the objective relation between human beings and nature, the environment movement has led to the widely accepted view that all economic activities must account for their impacts, and that limits must be imposed on these actions if necessary to protect the natural environment. Since it is recognized that environment has no real boundary, the concerns are for both local and global environment. These concerns in developed countries are being transmitted to Bangladesh and other developing countries via the development assistance programs funded by the peoples of those countries. Thus, international development agencies now routinely impose requirements to consider and minimize the environmental consequences of all funded projects. This has also helped to create a growing environmental awareness among a segment of the local professionals and the public.
However, the efforts to respond to the increasing demands to protect local and global environmental resources are taking place within the culture of the market economy based on the principals of laissez faire as the means to guaranty life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Social living has never been free of conflict, and environmental concerns are giving rise to many new ones. The primary function of the state is to mediate the opposing interests of various classes and groups in the society. Laws and the institutions for their enforcement, including the state instruments of coercion, are essential tools in this role. Laws and the legal institutions can be dynamic, but they are always shaped by the current relative strengths of the conflicting classes and groups. Protection of the environment and conservation of natural resources are necessary in Bangladesh to ensure that it remains viable as a human habitat. Yet, the environmental concerns have given rise to a new set of conflicts - both subjective and objective - in Bangladesh as well, and the need to set up appropriate legal framework has become apparent. An effort is underway to do so utilizing experience of other societies where advances have been made in this respect. A mediated solution invariably results in gains and losses by the parties involved. Thus, promulgation of environmental laws and their enforcement will have socio-economic impact. It will pose new challenges, but will also create new opportunities.
These and other related issues are discussed in this paper.
Environmental laws and regulations in Bangladesh are not entirely new, neither are they what they need to be. To the extent laws reflect the needs of a society to set limits or standards for activities which involve a significant segment of the collective, environmental laws in Bangladesh are responses to such needs. They are components of the country's superstructure, as laws, other social rules of conduct and institutions in general are understood to be. Specifically, the existing "environmental laws and regulations"  are in fact past isolated responses to specific problems encountered in administration. In a contemporary sense, these came about in the absence of an 'environmental awareness' commensurate with the changed socio-economic 1
conditions, local and global. In many countries this awareness is becoming a prominent force in shaping the political, social and economic agenda. In that sense the environmental laws of the past do not constitute a...
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