Today is World Environment Day. According to environmentalists and river researchers, urgent efforts are needed now to revive the river in Dhaka
There used to be 12 water buses on the Gabtali route from Sadarghat in the capital, now there are only two. The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) supervised the movement of water buses on this waterway. An official of the company recently told Prothom Alo, ‘The main reason for stopping the water bus is less passengers; And the reason for the low number of passengers is the stench of river water. No one wants to get on the water bus because of this horrible smell. ‘
Water expert and former BUET professor Mujibur Rahman said, “There is no such thing as the lifeblood of the Buriganga.”
The pollution of the Buriganga near Dhaka is increasing day by day. Not only Buriganga, but also the surrounding Turag, Balu, Shitalakshya and Dhaleshwari. The water level in these rivers is much lower than it should be for aquatic life. Sometimes water quality in some areas improved during the lockdown due to corona last year. Now that’s the case.
The practice of blaming each other for government polluters has not stopped. Some say it will take at least a decade for pollution to stop. In this situation, World Environment Day is being celebrated on Saturday. This time the theme is ‘Ecology or Restoration of the Environment’. Rivers are an important part of the environment. Speaking of environmentalists and river researchers, this is not the case for decades. I want to work hard now to bring back the life of Dhaka river.
Pollution is like that now
One of the criteria for measuring river pollution is the determination of dissolved oxygen (DO) in water. If there is a minimum of 5 mg DO per liter of water, that water is considered to be of good quality.
In the last five years, the river quality monitoring of the Department of Environment has shown that the dissolved oxygen level in the water of five rivers in Dhaka has dropped to zero in many places during the dry season. In March this year, the DO level in the water near the Mirpur bridge on the Buriganga River was zero point 32 percent. Here it was 2.2 percent in April last year. And last year the DO on Gabtali bridge on Turag river was 3.2 percent. This time it has come down to half in March.
Fahmida Khanam, director (natural resource management) of the environment department, told Prothom Alo, “The main source of pollution in Dhaka’s rivers is sewage. WASA can treat only 20 percent of the area and only 10 percent of human waste, the rest falls into the river. We are trying to stop industrial pollution. It has not stopped.
Blame each other
A total of four major sources are blamed for the pollution of Dhaka’s rivers. These are industrial waste, sewage, solid waste of two cities and vessel waste. Multiple government agencies are responsible for these pollution and supervision of pollution. But there is an attempt to blame each other for who is polluting these departments. For example, the director of the environment department spoke about the pollution due to sewage. Dhaka WASA Waste Management Authority. But the responsibility for industrial pollution control lies with the Department of the Environment. When asked about the role of the company in controlling that pollution, Fahmida Khatun said, ‘There are five thousand factories in Narayanganj alone. And we have a deputy director for them, and we have two inspectors. How can this limited manpower be controlled? ‘
Abul Kashem, Acting Director General (Routine Responsibility) of WASA, said, “WASA, I do not deny this responsibility. But the loss of industrial waste is more than 50 percent. Sewage is responsible for 15 percent of river pollution.
Dhaka WASA and two cities are under the Ministry of Local Government. WASA responsibility for waste management, said the local government minister. Speaking of Tajul Islam, ‘RAJUK approved the building. How do they approve a building that does not have a septic tank? If it had, it could have been waste management.
Will pollution be reduced in 10 years?
Officials of various departments of the three ministries are talking about various plans, projects or plans to reduce river pollution in Dhaka. Although many of these are limited to ‘being, will be’.
WASA says five treatment plants are under construction for sewage management, a major source of pollution in Dhaka’s rivers. Abul Kashem, acting director general of the company, said the projects would be completed by 2030. After that, the official hopes that the river will not be polluted with sewage.
The Department of the Environment says industries do not keep refineries. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person. A project to take care of these online is now in their thoughts.
A year ago, an arrangement was made experimentally for the treatment of water-borne waste at Sadarghat. State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury admitted that it did not work. He said in the first light, ‘Strong initiatives have been taken for waste management in boats. The results are also matching. We are hopeful that pollution will decrease.
Initiatives have been taken to build two huge treatment plants for solid waste management in Gazipur and Dhaka North City, said Minister Tajul Islam. Of the two, the Gazipur refinery will be completed in three years. The Dhaka North will take a little longer, he said. However, the minister announced another master plan for rivers in Dhaka. It will last for 10 years. Then the pollution will be reduced? In response, Tajul Islam said, “We are optimistic.”
However, researchers have less hope in this hope. Professor Mujibur Rahman, a water expert, said, “The wastewater treatment plant that WASA is talking about now was taken in 2013. That too was part of a master plan. In reality, time has been wasted and expenses have increased. No matter how great the plan is, its implementation is not pleasant. So the rivers are not expected to be in good condition in a decade.