Dissolved oxygen hardly found in Buriganga waterShakhawat Hossain
Two-thirds of a project to restore the River Buriganga has been completed, but there is no sign of improvement in the quality of the water of the moribund river, the lifeline for the city of 10 million plus inhabitants, said a public document.
About 66 per cent of the Buriganga River Restoration Project for bringing water from the River Jamuna to the Buriganga and three other rivers surrounding the capital was completed in the outgoing fiscal.
The Tk 944.09 crore project undertaken in late 2010, however, proved ineffective so far to reduce the amount of hazardous substances in the waters of the rivers.
Green groups said they were not surprised by such dismal outcome. It is quite natural as the government has failed to shut dozens of sources discharging solid and untreated wastes into the river, they said.
More than 250 tanneries at Hazaribagh dump 40,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals and other sources deposit 25,000 tonnes of untreated wastes daily into the river.
The presence of dissolved solid at eight points of the Buriganaga – Mirpur bridge, Hazaribagh, Kamrangirchar, Chadni Ghat, Sadarghat, Dolai Khal, Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge and Pagla –varied between 592 milligram per litre and 1,188 milligram per litre.
Bangladesh Economic Review 2012, quoting a directorate of environment survey conducted in 2011, said there was hardly any trace of dissolved oxygen, which all living beings and plants need in order to survive, in the water of Buriganga in dry season.
‘There was no trace of oxygen in the water in January, February and May,’ said the directorate of environment, adding that the condition was similar in two other rivers – Sitalakhya and Turag.
Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan general secretary MA Matin told New Age that he did not agree with the policymakers, including the state minister for environment, that quality Buriganga water had improved.
He said he had serious doubt about the actual progress of the project because development often remained mere paperwork and was marred by corruption.
Green campaigners have also been dismayed by the performance of another project launched by the present government before the ongoing project was undertaken for restoration of the Buriganga.
The ministry of shipping had launched the project at a cost of Tk 24.9 crore for cleaning the riverbed. But the much-hyped project did not yield the expected results.
Sunil Baran Debroy, project director of the Buriganga River Restoration Project, said they were facing bureaucratic hurdles in executing the project.
He also said the project had also experienced financial constraints in the outgoing fiscal.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan said the delay in relocation of the tanneries was frustrating.
The High Court directed the government to shift the Hazaribagh tanneries outside the capital after BELA filed a writ petition with the High Court in 1994 for tannery relocation.
Rizwana Hasan said delay in setting up effluent treatment plants and relocation of the tanneries was causing severe damage to the ecology of the Buriganga and its surroundings.
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