10 May 2010 – Environmentalists are claiming that the construction of new shipbreaking yards along Bangladesh’s 20km coastline, which have resulted in large-scale deforestation, has worsened the impact of climate change. In the past five years, two deadly cyclones have hit Bangladesh, killing over 5,000 people.
Mohammad Ali Shaheed, the Head of the Platform on Shipbreaking Lobby Group in Bangladesh, said that more than 40,000 large trees were cut down in the last six months to make way for new vessels.
“Not only are the yards dumping toxic waste on the coast, they are also clearing forests that have been painstakingly planted and nurtured to work as natural barriers to cyclones,” he said.
Professor Mohammad Kamal Hossain, a forestry expert at Chittagong University, said that shipbreakers had “gobbled up” plantations and that felling old forests was illegal in Bangladesh.
“But laws are not enforced as shipbreaking is a billion-dollar industry and yard owners are some of the country’s top business tycoons,” Professor Hossain was quoted as saying by AFP.