Another pointer on incumbents’ indifference to stopping river pollution
The apparent failure of the project to restore the River Buriganga, as New Age reported on Saturday, tends to indicate the ineptitude, if not inanity, of the authorities concerned, vested with the task to plan and implement the project. According to the report, the project estimated to cost Tk 944.09 crore was undertaken by the incumbent government in late 2010 to bring water from the River Jamuna to the Buriganga and three other rivers surrounding the capital Dhaka in a bid to reduce the amount of hazardous substances in their waters. But, even after completion of around 66 per cent of the project, there is no sign of improvement in the quality of the waters of the rivers—including Buriganga, exposed to grave risk of death as they have virtually turned into a dumping ground for untreated city wastes, industrial and household, over decades. Pertinently, more than 250 tanneries at Hazaribagh of the city dump daily a staggering 40,000 tonnes of toxic chemicals into the river while other sources release 25,000 tonnes of untreated wastes every day into it. As a result, the presence of dissolved solid at eight points of the river varies ‘between 592 milligram per litre and 1188 milligram per litre’. Worse even, according to a survey conducted in 2011 by the environment directorate, quoted in Bangladesh Economic Review 2012, the water of the Buriganga, like that of Shitalakhya and Turag, lacks any trace of dissolved oxygen essential for life, in particular, in dry season.
Under such circumstances, there is indeed no scope to undermine the significance of the project in question. Regrettably, however, as mentioned earlier, it looks set to fall flat altogether. To say the least, the flawed plan of the project has largely contributed to this regard. The green groups appear to have rightly pointed out that any project aimed at successfully bringing the Buriganga and other rivers crisscrossing the capital back to life invariably, in the first place, needs to follow the closure of the sources that discharge wastes, solid and liquid, into their water, a step the project at hand hardly included. Also, their suspicion of corruption in the project cannot be ruled out. It is worthy of noting that, in an apparent move to comply with its election pledge to put an end to river pollution, the incumbent government launched a project at a cost of Tk 24.9 crore for cleaning up wastes at the bottom of the city rivers in the wake of its assumption of office in 2009 to no avail, understandably, due to same reasons.
The government needs to investigate the whole matter to clear the allegations without any delay. Furthermore, it also needs to take effective steps to redesign, if needed, the project in consultation with the relevant experts and to implement it to the letter and in spirit.
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