The courts will try cases under tough new legislation which will be empowered to punish environmental crimes with ten year sentences as well as stiff fines, according to Bengali newspaper The Independent. Reports state that there will be seven courts in total, of which two will be in the capital and largest city, Dhaka, with another five in divisional headquarters. The legislation is also expected to allow trials to take place in other areas, if deemed necessary.

The reports quote ‘a source in the government’, who expects the courts to start functioning “sometime in early next year,” and says that the Ministry of Environment and Forests has written a letter to the Ministry of Law to take necessary administrative measures for setting up the courts. The courts will reportedly be funded by the Ministry of Finance.

Two current environmental concerns in Bangladesh which Greenpeace is currently campaigning on, and where the new Environmental Courts could make an impact, are: The illegal dumping of ‘toxic’ ships for dismantling, where workers are exposed to asbestos and other poisons and a disused DDT plant and factory site in the second city, Chittagong, where 15 tons of the highly-toxic insecticide and an unknown quantity of DDT sludge are still stored.

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