'BNP behaves like World Bank pet'
'BNP behaves like World Bank pet'Former minister and Awami League Publicity and Publication Secretary Dr Hasan Mahmud today dubbed BNP and some of its leaders as 'public relations box' for the World Bank and said their role was a shame for the entire nation.
"Apparently it seems that BNP and some of its leaders have gotten consultancy to beat drums in favour of the World Bank. This is simply ridiculous," he said while speaking at a roundtable on a water and environment issue here.
Half a dozen parliament members from coastal constituencies as well as water experts, NGO activists and media professionals spoke at the roundtable titled "Protection of Bangladesh Coast from Climate Change Strikes: Measures to Get Rid of Tidal Surges and Inundations" at the Jatiya Sangsad premises.
Hasan Mahmud, now an influential parliament member and chairman of parliamentary standing committee on Environment and Forest Ministry, defended his government's stance against the World Bank and said time has proved it was a conspiracy hatched together by domestic and international players. Awami League and the government had always denied this corruption allegation on Padma Bridge construction and the Canadian court has proved government's honesty eventually, he added.
"Had the World Bank continue its fund in the bridge, the people of the country could enjoy its benefit by this time," he said adding that when the entire nation was convinced about a major conspiracy, BNP was surprisingly advocating for the lender. He also questioned that whether BNP leader Rizvi Ahmed has been paid for his recent statements in favour of the bank.
The parliament member said the government would, however, continue relationship with the World Bank in other areas of development, but would never compromise with its baseless allegations and other pressures that might go against national interest. He also mentioned about the operation of Green Climate Fund by the bank and said Bangladesh would not expect any credit for environment protections.
"We want grants as compensations, not credits," said Hasan Mahmud, who led Bangladesh in a series of crucial climate change negotiations abroad as environment minister between 2009 and 2014. The adversaries Bangladesh people have been facing at home now was because of carbon emissions by the developed world and some other emerging economies, he pointed out.
Hasan Mahmud also asked BNP to keep the national interest above petty party or personal interests as shown by Awami League and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The World Bank would not put you in power, he said adding, it was the people of the country who would take decisions for or against you in next general elections.
"So, have faith on people."
The parliament members from the coastal seats unequivocally said the brunt of global warming was faced by their people as donors have paid little attention to the sufferers. They unfairly try to put every responsibility on Bangladesh's shoulder while the real responsibilities lie with them, they added.
Mohammad Nurul Haque of Paikgacha-Koira constituency narrated his constituents' unbearable sufferings and said poor funding from donors coupled with wrong planning and delayed execution of local development programmes made lives more vulnerable. The embankments were supposed to be completed by last December, but only 20 percent of them are done, he put as a reference.
"People of our constituencies do not want relief. Rather they want sustainable solutions," said Begum Zebunnesa, MP, of Barisal Sadar seat, echoing others from Chittagong, Bhola, Satkhira and Khulna. She said a master plan needs to be taken for the coastal zone led by a National Task Force to solve problems along the coast.
The major demands were: construction and reconstruction of elevated embankments up to 20 feet high along the cost, re-excavation of canals and small rivers within dikes, redesigning of embankments and sluice gates, river training and community involvement.
Professor Dr Ainun Nishat said the tidal surge about 15 feet high during cyclones was the main challenge to manage and protect lives along coastal lines. Foreigners could hardly solve this local problem, he said and added the Delta Plan run by foreign consultants was going to be a failed case in near future.