Pollution: Bill with provision of tougher punishments passed in parliament

Keeping provisions of tougher punishments for polluting environment, the Mongla Port Authority Bill-2021 was passed in parliament today.

State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury moved the bill and it was passed by voice vote.

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The bill will abolish the Chalna Port Authority Ordinance 1976 as it was promulgated during a military regime.

It also says if any individual or ship throws or grants permission to throw oil or oil-like material, waste, ash into water, beach, shore or land in the port area causing damage to marine life or pollution to water or environment, the person or vessel will be punished under the Environment Conservation Act, 1995.

As per the bill, the punishment for harming the environment by polluting water, land and coast has been raised to one-year imprisonment or a fine of Tk 5 lakh or both. The fine is Tk 50,000 in the existing ordinance.

According to a new provision incorporated in the bill, the punishment for dodging toll, fee and other charges of the port will invite a one-year jail term or a fine of Tk 1 lakh or both.

If anyone defies the law, he will be sentenced to six months in jail or be fined Tk 2 lakh or both. The punishment is only a six-month jail and a fine of Tk 50,000 in the existing ordinance.

Besides, some new terminologies like ‘inland water vessel’, ‘terminal’, ‘berth’, container freight station and ‘lease’ have been incorporated in the bill.

According to the bill, there will be a seven-member board to run the port. The number of the board members is now four in the existing ordinance.

The port authority can declare the restricted port area through a special order.

Earlier on April 3, 2021, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury placed the bill in parliament which was sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Shipping for further scrutiny.

The aims and objectives section of the proposed bill says it will create momentum for the import and export of goods in the country’s northern region and pave the way for generating revenue.

A provision was kept in the bill to preserve “the work done in good faith”. It states that no civil or criminal case may be instituted against the authority, or its chairman, any member, officer or employee, or any other legal action cannot be taken if any person is harmed or is likely to be harmed as a result of any act done in good faith under this Act.

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