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Wednesday, August 20, 2014, Bhadra 5, 1421, Shawal 23, 1435 Hijr

Govt mulls tapping Bay resources, Strategic meeting of 19 ministries likely today
Saleem Samad
Publish Date : 2014-08-20,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 129
The government has undertaken a mega plan for exploitation of resources of the sea after winning the Bay of Bengal delimitation of maritime boundary dispute with neighbouring Myanmar and India.
Sources in the Foreign Ministry said a strategic meeting with the participation of 19 ministries and divisions is expected to be held today (Wednesday) at Chameli Hall of the Prime Minister's Office presided by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
A joint preparatory meeting of the 19 ministries was held on Tuesday at the Ministry of Foreign Office conference room, official sources said.
The high profile meeting on Wednesday will place respective plans of different ministries, divisions and agencies, which will be knitted into a mega plan, foreign office officials said. The strategic meeting has been given top most priority by Sheikh Hasina's government, official said.
On March 14, 2012 and July 8 this year Bangladesh won two landmark judgements against Myanmar and India respectively. Bangladesh has gained 19,467 sq km of 25,602 sq km of the Bay of Bengal.
The individual plans will be tabled by the Ministries and Divisions of Foreign, Home, Defence, Law and Justice, Water Resources, Industries, Civil Aviation and Tourism, Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Forest, Armed Forces Division, Energy and Mineral Resources Division, Petro Bangla, Atomic Energy Commission, Directorate of Geological Survey and Meteorological Department.
For the implementation of the mega plan, the government is likely to agree on principle to seek knowledge and expertise of the national and expatriate consultants and experts. The government will also involve experts on coastal and marine resources to understand the gamut of the sustainable exploitation of the Bay.
It was recommended to engage the Bangladeshi experts living abroad to develop a sustainable coastal and marine resource mega plan.
Earlier different ministries, divisions and agencies whichever were involved with the use of the Bay did not bother to coordinate the use of the sea. Similarly different ministries had separate plans and activities which did not involve other government agencies, the officials lamented.
More than a decade ago the country has developed a National Programme of Action for Protection of the Coastal and Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities, Department of Environment by the Ministry of Environment and Forests which was described as inadequate to address the gigantic issues of the Bay.
For the first time in 4 decades a joint mega plan would be undertaken to ensure sustainable use of the Bay under the leadership of the Prime Minister with the coordination of most of the ministries and agencies.
More ministries, divisions, directorates and agencies are likely to be invited to participate in the mega plan when the activities are implemented.
A national board or a commission is likely to be setup to implement the entire gamut of the coastal and marine resources. Whether it is a board or commission, the chief will the Prime Minister, source said.
It is believed that the newly acquired extended limitation of the sea not only has huge stock of fisheries and marine resources, but also unspecified quantity of natural and mineral resource are likely to be discovered. Oil and gas explorations are likely to be exploited at the earliest, the official added.
Government has plans to invite scholars, experts and consultants at a two-day national seminar to be held from September 1 to 2. Participants would be drawn from 40 countries. The mega plan will be presented for feedback from coastal and marine resources experts and scholars.

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