The overall natural environment of the port city of Chittagong is under threat due to pollution, rampant hill cutting, tree cutting, absence of a drainage and sewerage system and discharge of clinical, industrial and household wastes. This is causing health and environmental hazards. Sources said the water of the Bay of Bengal at the Chittagong port channel is being polluted by regular discharge of oil, wastes and other chemicals from ships. The Karnaphuli river mouth is affected in the same manner. Besides, a number of factories located on the banks of the Karnaphuli are discharging other toxic chemicals into the river.
The sources also said that many cargo and container ships, as well as oil tankers, violate the Port Ordinance and the Inland and Merchant Ordinance by spilling oil into the water of the Bay of Bengal and the Karnaphuli.
Rear Admiral Nizamuddin, chairman of the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA), has expressed concern over the situation. He said he would take steps to curb the pollution. Rampant hill cutting in the district, carried out by a syndicate of politically influential people, have also resulted in serious ecological imbalance and environmental disasters like frequent landslides. The syndicate is supported by local goons and some unscrupulous persons in the district administration.
Prof. Mohammed Idris Ali of Chittagong College who is an environment activist, said more than 100 hills have disappeared in the last 30 years. He said many innocent people have lost their lives in the resultant landslides.
According to sources, hill cutting is going on unabated in Khulshi, Panchlaish, Sholoshahar, Baizid Bostami, Foy’s Lake, Lalkhan Bazar, Oxygen Intersection and Polytechnic areas. It is also taking place at Banshkhali, Hathazari, Fatikchari and other hilly terrains of the district.
Around 50 lakh city dwellers throw their household wastes into the canals and drains of the city due to lack of a proper sewerage and drainage system. The three important canals of the city– Nasir Khal, Bohadder Hat Khal and Hijra Khal — are fully choked by mud.
The five km-long Chaktai Khal has been filled up with wastes. This usually causes the rainwater to overflow from the canal, causing immense sufferings to more than five lakh residents of Bahadderhat and Chaktai areas.
Moreover, there is no proper drainage system in Chittagong. In spite of a master plan prepared by the CDA, no government authorities, including the CDA, WASA or the city corporation have taken initiatives to develop a proper drainage system in Chittagong City.
Most of the drains in the city are damaged due to unplanned construction and rampant dumping of wastes.
There is no management to take care of the clinical garbage of at least 200 hospitals and clinics in Chittagong. Dumping of such wastes, especially at nearby areas of hospitals and clinics, creates health hazards for local residents. According to the law, all clinics and hospitals must set up their own plants to destroy clinical wastes.
Of late, the Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) has taken steps to clean clinical wastes. It has issued a notice in this regard.
CCC mayor Alhaj Monjur Alam Monju has taken steps to make the cleaning process hygienic. He told The Independent that the CCC has introduced a new system to provide better services to city dwellers. “I hope that all city dwellers will help us make the city hygienic. We’re trying to prepare a clinical and household waste management system to clean the city,” he added.
-With The Independent input