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!

To set your mind in the normal course of thinking, you may sing a popular British song 'Silent Icy River' released in 2005: "...time is a ribbon/a silent icy river fools us all..." Yes, the river fools us all, superficially being looked icy, but practically an aspect of environmental pollution.
A monitoring watchdog of environmental statistics, nationmaster.com shows that textile industries hold 64.18% share of the total BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) emissions in Bangladesh. Surprisingly it is the 2nd highest (following Macau) percentage in the world! And this BOD contribution is close to the rate of foreign exchange contribution by the particular sector of the country. It implies to more foreign exchange through more industrialization, and also the more BOD emission!
A study "Methodology for Performance Analysis of Textile Effluent Treatment Plants in Bangladesh" stated in December 2009 that "a semi-automated composite textile industry of 10 tonne capacity produces 1250m3 of effluent each day, which contains an assortment of chemicals including salts, dyes and bleaches." It also stated that most of the plants are not able to treat the waste, and though some have treatment plants, they are not running due to unwillingness of management and also lack of experience to some extent.
According to newspapers referring to the Department of Environment sources, the number of most polluting industries was 903 in 1986 and 1176 in 1997. A World Bank study says that Dhaka river-boundaries made with the Buriganga, Shitalakhya, Turag and Balu take 1.5 million cubic meters of waste water every day from 7,000 industrial units in surrounding areas and another 0.5 million cubic meters from other sources.
The accelerated industrial discharge of large amounts of untreated liquid has rendered water bodies polluted and agricultural land barren and the ecosystem threatened. The impact of water pollution is massive and multi-dimensional. Chemicals like cadmium, chromium, and especially mercury carried by the industrial waste are taken by the fishes, and some of it is also invading into the ground water, as well.
The dangerous thing is that fishes are being cultivated in the Mirpur-Manikdi road-side polluted water. A serious health concern implies to eating fishes caught from these areas. Since the last rainy season, I saw at least two mass fish deaths in the road-side fishing enclosures caused by, apparently, want of oxygen.
Huge policy level tasks have been done so far for protecting the environment of Bangladesh. Scores of laws, policies, rules, circulars, ordinances and orders have been adopted and issued. For example, Environment Policy, 1992 sets its objectives, as: 2.7 industrial usage of heavy and harmful metals like mercury, chromium and lead are to be discouraged to pave the way to their final prohibition; 3.2 discharging municipal, agricultural or any other waste to the rivers, canals or other water bodies is to be strictly controlled by adopting laws and implementation thereof; 5.3.3 discharging household, industrial or any other waste to water reservoirs before its treatment, is to be strictly controlled by adopting laws and implementation thereof. But of them, the major ones are practically not in force, as the 'icy' branch of Turag makes us think of!
With current resources and settings and with their optimum use, Dhaka is, at best, able to accommodate only 10 million people. The urbanization specialists expect Dhaka with an area of 580 sqkm and a population of 23 million in the next 10-15 years would be holding the rank of the second largest city in the world. We are not sure yet what consequences will welcome our next generation if we do not implement the policies and commitments regarding our environment, as well as climate change impact.
The afore-mentioned song 'Silent Icy River' was released in the album 'What Happens Tomorrow'. And I also want to finish my write up asking, what happens tomorrow?

Source: thedailystar.net

Subscribe to RSS Feed or Get update via Email

No comments:

Post a Comment