April 25, 2010

A silent icy river in Dhaka!

You will certainly not believe any snowfall in Dhaka! But what about an icy river? And that even not in the winter, just in the month of April, 2010? In fact it is a common scene since long. And what about thinking of a north-bound river? You must be thinking something has gone wrong with me.
Not exactly. I invite you to accompany me in my morning walk upto the middle of the Mirpur-Manikdi (Uttara) link road under construction. A branch of the river Turag flows here, surprisingly, in the northern direction, under a temporary culvert built to facilitate the bridge construction. Would you believe from the culvert up to about 200 metres downstream, it is all icy! Torn, scattered, 1-2 feet icy layer and some snow-balls rolling in the gentle breeze will widen your eyes. But, your nasal will obviously response avoringly to the severe sulphuric smell! Then you may easily assume that some chemical waste discharged from the nearby garment industries and the sewerage run-off caused these icy foams. And the huge amount of disposed liquid and probably some blockage in the south made the little river flow north. A dreamy outlook in reality is a foamy dirty brook!

Urban poverty and environmental degradation: Vicious cycle

GREEN' issues are spearheading discussions on resource management, biodiversity and global warming, while the environmental problems known as 'Brown Agenda' have been neglected for a long time. Challenges in addressing and meeting the brown agenda in the cities have acquired prominence among the planning and development professionals around the world. It is well accepted that rapid urbanisation has aggravated problems like sanitation and drainage, solid waste management, degradation of soil and land, uncontrolled emissions from the domestic and industrial activities, street and abode congestions and improper disposal of hazardous waste resulting in poor health of people. Cities and towns have been hubs of economic development but how this economic development must be achieved in the first place? Do the rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and development of communication network add impetus to economic development at the cost of environment?
The root causes of environmental degradation in urban areas are the unplanned and hardly coordinated inter-play of socio-economic, institutional and technical activities. There are many factors, which may have greater impacts on the urban environment but poverty still remains at the root of several environmental problems. Let us try to understand the urban poverty and environmental degradation before blaming each other.