Bangladesh has various environmental policies, legislations, environmental institutions, and international conventions to which it is a party.1 There are approximately 200 laws, relating to the protection of the environment2 but their proper application in preserving the environment is not practically visible.3

The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995

The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 (BECA) is currently the main legislation relating to environmental protection in Bangladesh and is the parent law regarding the conservation of the environment in Bangladesh.4 The objectives behind creating the Act were to ensure the conservation of the environment, improvement of environmental standards and the control and mitigation of environmental pollution.5 The Environmental Conservation Rules, 1997 was promulgated to supplement the Act. 6However, due to some loopholes in the legislation, it remains unable to fulfil its purposes. 

The mentioned laws focus on curative procedures rather than preventive measures.7 Though the Act and rules generally focus on offences and punishments, the penalties given for some of the offences are also inadequate.8 BECA, 1995 conferred infinite and enormous powers on the Director General of the Department of Environment (DoE) without assigning any accountability for failures.9 Nevertheless, no specific provisions are found regarding the appointment, qualification, tenure, remuneration, retirement and removal of the Director General (DG), Members of the Appellate Body and other employees of DoE.10

BECA, 1995 empowers the DoE with several powers for the implementation of the Act.11 DoE has the right to enter, investigate, test, examine, seize, and search places where it has reason to believe an offence has occurred in contravention of this Act.12  Under this Act, an individual is barred from filing a direct suit to the court without a written report from the DG or authorised official.13 If the DG was approached but failed to take action within 60 days from the receipt of the application, the court may accept the application only after hearing the DG or his authorised officer.14 However, the Act bars the filing of cases against the DG and the officials of DoE for any act done in good faith.15 

The Environment Court Act, 2010

The enactment of The Environment Court Act introduced a specialised environmental court in the legal system of Bangladesh.16 The main objective behind the establishment of The Environment Court Act, 2010 (ECA) was speedy trial and to ensure the removal of obstacles in the implementation of environmental laws.17 The ECA aims to establish one or more Environment Court/s in each district in the tier of Joint District Judge.18 But there are only three Courts located in Dhaka, Chattagram and Sylhet and one Appellate Court that has been established till now.19 The Environment  Court has jurisdiction only on the matters arising out of The Environment Conservation Act, 1995 and other laws specified by the Government in the official Gazette,20 taking no notice of many other environmental laws of Bangladesh.21 such as offences relating to forest resources, wildlife, biodiversity, fisheries, water resources and other natural resources.22 The Brick Manufacturing and Brick Kilns Establishment (Control) Act, 2013 states that only the Environment Court or Special Magistrate’s Court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act.23 

The general populace have no direct access to the Environment Courts. The BECA, 1995 recognizes the right of an individual or group of individuals to file a suit for compensation24 but the Environmental Court Act, (ECA) 2010 bars such right by its provision that the Environment Court shall not receive any claim for compensation under environmental law without the written report of the Inspector of DoE.25  The Environment Courts do not even have any suo motu power to take cognizance of matters regarding environmental pollution and investigate it.26 It is also stated that the Special Magistrate Court shall also not take cognizance of an offence except on the written report of an Inspector of DoE.27 The Environment Courts are completely dependent on the decision of the DoE and the DoE makes inordinate delays for prosecution and taking appropriate actions, planning on filing suit and investigating the cause of actions.28 Although no direct suits have been filed yet, there is already a backlog of undisposed cases. Moreover, ECA directs that a case must be disposed of within 180 days29 and can be extended up to 90 days on reasonable grounds.30 This, along with the application of the procedural laws of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) affects the objective of speedy and effective disposal.31

 The Environmental Court has no jurisdiction to try any case under The Protection and Conservation of Fish Act, 1950, The Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act, 2012, The  Bangladesh Water Act, 2013, The  Bangladesh Biodiversity Act, 2017, The  Forest Act, 1927 and a bunch of other environmental laws. For five years in a row, Bangladesh has been regarded as one of the top five most polluted countries. Limitations of environmental laws and policies in Bangladesh are one of the major reasons for the worsening of environmental standards. BECA, 1995 and ECA, 2010 consist of flaws and loopholes for more than a decade but change has yet to be made to these laws. It is high time to look into the matter and develop the necessary amendments. 


  1. South Asia Co-operative Environment Programme, ‘Handbook on Environmental Law and Institutions in Bangladesh’ <http://www.sacep.org/pdf/Reports-Technical/2001-UNEP-SACEP-Law-Handbook-Bangladesh.pdf> accessed 5 August 2023.
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  2. Government of the United Kingdom, A Review of the Environmental Policy and Legislation in Bangladesh (Final Research Report Section 2, 2006).
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  3. Staff reporter, ‘Environment protection laws are not enforced properly: Experts’ The Business Standard (Dhaka, 21 May 2022).
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  4. Md. Sefat Ullah, ‘Greening Justice in Bangladesh: A Road to Successful Environmental Court’ 2016] 3 Green University Review of Social Sciences 101. ↩︎
  5. Upal Aditya Oikya, ‘Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995: An Analysis & Review’ [2017] BDJLS <https://bdjls.org/bangladesh-environment-conservation-act-1995-an-analysis-review/> accessed 17 September 2023.
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  6.  Clemett (n 2).
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  7. Mohammad Faysal Saleh, ‘A Critical Appraisal of Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 and Rules, 1997’, (Bangladesh Law Digest, 3 September 2015) <https://bdlawdigest.org/bangladesh-environment-conservation-act-1995.html> accessed 13 November 2023. ↩︎
  8. Nadim Zawad Akil, ‘Loopholes and inadequacy: Why our environmental watchdog struggles to protect the environment’ The Business Standard (Dhaka, 06 January 2021).  
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  9.  Mohammad Golam Sarwar, ‘Making a case for Environmental Rule of Law in Bangladesh’ The Daily Star (Dhaka, 8 June 2021).
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  10.  Imtiaz Ahmed Sajal, ‘A Critical Evaluation of Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995’ (Bangladesh Law Digest, 29 October 2016) <https://bdlawdigest.org/bangladesh-environment-conservation-act.html> accessed 16 December 2023.
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  11. Syeda Rizwana Hasan, ‘Application and Reform Needs of the Environmental Law in Bangladesh’[2005] Bangladesh Journal of Law 85.
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  12.  M.I. Sharif and M.A. Hannan, Guide to the Environmental Conservation Act 1995 and Rules 1997, (BCAS 1999) 17. ↩︎
  13.  The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995, s 17.
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  14.  ibid. 
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  15.  The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995, s 18. 
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  16. Imtiaz Ahmed Sajal, ‘Common People’s Access to the Environment Courts of Bangladesh: an Appraisal’ [2016] 15 JATI J 211. ↩︎
  17.  ibid.
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  18. The Environment Court Act 2010, s 4.

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  19.  Md. Zakir Hossain, ‘Revisiting Enforcement of Environment Court Act 2010’ The Daily Sun (Dhaka, 29 February 2020).
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  20. The Environment Court Act 2010, s 2(c).
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  21.  Md. Ahsan Habib, ‘Reflections on Environmental Adjudication Regime of Bangladesh’ (Bangladesh Law Digest, 12 June  2015) <https://bdlawdigest.org/bangladesh-environment-court-act-2010.html> accessed 17 October 2023.
     
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  22. Sajal (n 10).
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  23.  The Brick Manufacturing and Brick kilns Establishment (Control) Act 2013, s 19(2).
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  24. The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995, s17.
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  25. The Environment Court Act, 2010, s 7.

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  26. Badsha Mia and Kazi Shariful Islam, ‘Human Rights Approach to Environment Protection: An
    Appraisal of Bangladesh’ [2021] 22 Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization 59.

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  27. The Environment Court Act 2010, s 6(3).
     
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  28.  Ullah (n 4).

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  29. The Environment Court Act 2010, s 10.
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  30.  The Environment Court Act 2010, s 14.

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  31.  Farjana Afruj Khan Alin, ‘The effectiveness of environment courts’ The Daily Star (Dhaka, 16 April 2019).

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