The government spent Tk 16.9313 crore to remove polythene and other wastes from the rivers Buriganga and Turag while the two rivers continue to be polluted through
uninterrupted disposal of liquid and solid wastes into them.
The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority was the implementing agency of the ‘Deposited Polythene and Other Waste Removal from Buriganga and Turag Rivers’ project and was funded from the Climate Change Trust Fund.
BIWTA dredging superintending engineer Mashukul Alam said, ‘The total fund allocated was Tk 21 crore of which Tk 17 crore allocated to remove wastes from Buriganga and Tk 4 crore for Turag.’
The project started in May 2010 and was completed in June 2011, he said.
Mashukul said the project’s main purpose was to increase water flow of the two rivers by removing layers of polythene, different types of wastes, mud, sand, plastic and coconut shells from the river beds.
He said the BIWTA was supposed to clean three kilometres of the Buriganga from Babubazar to Kamrangirchar and one kilometre of the Turag at Tongi.
Mashukul Alam said they had removed 8.141 lakh cubic metres of wastes from the two rivers.
After the completion of the project in 2011, the BIWTA proposed another mega project of Tk 228 crore to make the four rivers — Buriganga Turag, Shitalakhya and Balu — free from pollution.
The proposal is still with the planning ministry and awaiting the ECNEC approval.
Environmentalists, meanwhile, have vented concern over the continued pollution of the Buriganga.
They have alleged that not only industrial wastes, but also household wastes are also being dumped at places from where they are carried into the river through canals or sewers.
City dwellers have alleged that though the government spent a huge amount of money, they lack coordinated initiatives to stop pollution and waste dumping.
Industrial wastes, tannery liquid and solid wastes, household wastes of the city corporations, Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority’s sewerage outlets are jointly polluting the river water, said Hazaribagh resident Iqbal Miah.
Tohura Banu, another resident of the Lalbagh area, pointing to the river Buriganga, said, ‘Now it is not a river. You better a canal. Once we were used to drink water from this river and at present it is unusable.’
The environment department’s report of June 2012 on river water samples showed the presence of dissolved oxygen in the Buriganga water between 1.5mg and 0mg a litre against the standards of 5mg/L for aquatic life in surface water in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan secretary general Abdul Matin said that government needed a specific and scientific plan to stop the sources of pollution.
Hazaribagh tanneries are still there, excreta of millions of city dwellers are still going into the rivers through WASA storm sewers every day and city corporations are dumping wastes into the rivers, he said.
-With New Age input