Grabbers and polluters of rivers around Dhaka must be taken into task06 February 2023
Most of the 6,000 factories operating in Dhaka discharge effluents directly to Buriganga and other canals leading to major rivers. According to the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA), about 12,000 cubic meters (420,000 cu ft) of untreated waste are released into the lake from Tejgaon, Badda and Mohakhali industrial areas every day.
Water quality of six major rivers flowing around Dhaka gets polluted, particularly in the dry season, to the extent that it cannot be treated for drinking. None of the rivers was found to have "blue" category water suitable for drinking after disinfection as evident from the water quality analysis. The deteriorating water quality of the Buriganga has been a major concern and that five more rivers around the capital are also in an appalling state is worrying.
Surface water is extremely precious, as the groundwater is depleting consistently. Presently, less than a quarter of Dhaka's daily demand for 25 million litres of water is met from surface water sources. Organic contaminants, pesticides, and heavy metals from industrial and domestic solid and liquid waste cannot be treated with traditional chlorination and disinfection processes.
Sustainable development goals cannot be achieved without conserving water resources. Around Dhaka, river water has altered from its natural state in terms of physical, chemical and microbiological composition and lost its suitability for any safe and beneficial use. The signs of contamination have become obvious through bad taste, offensive odours, unchecked growth of aquatic weeds, decrease in the number of aquatic animals, floating of oil and grease, the colouration of water and so on.
Over the years government agencies conducted drives against the polluters; however, yielded small successes. Meanwhile, the polluters continued polluting the rivers. Dhaka WASA is the main culprit as it discharges all solid waste and household waste into the rivers but nobody shoulders the responsibilities of the entity. We urge the government, rights campaigners, the Supreme Court, and thinkers to come up to protect our rivers from the grabbers and polluters, whoever they are. Our rivers are our life and we must protect those for our future.