No respite for Karnaphuli, Halda
Chattogram city dwellers will have to bear the nuisance of sewage pollution in the Karnaphuli and Halda rivers even longer, as the completion deadline for the Sewerage Treatment Plant-1 project has been extended.
Every day, more than 25 crore litres of polluted water, including sewage, flows through the city's 16 main canals, and eventually goes into the Karnaphuli and Halda, damaging the aquatic ecosystem.
The deadline for the STP-1 project, implemented by Chattogram Water Supply and Sewerage Authority was June. However, the government has now extended its deadline by a year to June 2024, as CWasa failed to complete the project within the scheduled time.
The project officials, however, said the STP-1 project is unlikely to be completed before 2026, as only 30 percent of the physical work has been completed so far.
"We need at least three more years to complete the project, as construction of a road and complications in land acquisition have delayed it," said Mohammed Ariful Islam, STP-1 project director.
According to the port city's Sewerage Master Plan 2017, CWasa divided the city into six packages to set up six STPs. They started work on Package-1 with an estimated cost of Tk 3,808 crore, said CWasa officials.
This correspondent recently visited Bakalia area of the port city and observed polluted water from the septic tanks of buildings flowing straight into Chaktai canal, which is directly linked to the Karnaphuli.
Akter Hossen, a resident of the area, admitted that they let their sewage into the canal. "We are forced to do so as we have no alternative," he said.
The main objective of the STP project is to reduce pollution of the Karnaphuli and Halda, as both water bodies were being polluted with sewage wastes produced by six million residents of the port city, said project officials.
The per day sewage waste figures, generated by city dwellers, will rise to around 515 million litres by 2030, which will push the Karnaphuli and Halda to the deathbed, unless the waste treatment plants come into effect, according to the Sewerage Master Plan.
Experts have already warned that aquatic organisms in the Karnaphuli will be wiped out if the ongoing situation continues.
Over the last 20 years, a total of 30 species of freshwater fish have disappeared from the Karnaphuli, according to a study conducted by Prof Md Manzoorul Kibria of Chittagong University's Zoology department.
"The Karnaphuli still survives despite the thousands of tonnes of waste being dumped into it as the tide washes the river every day. But CWwas should complete the project soon to save the river," said Prof Kibria.
Under the STP-1, approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council in 2018, two million urban dwellers of 11 wards in the port city will be brought under the sewerage system.
A treatment plant will be set up on 165 acres of land in the city's Halishahar area and 200 km-long pipelines will be installed. After completion of the project, no buildings will require septic tanks, as all household sewage will directly go to the STPs.
A South Korean company, Taeyoung Engineering and Construction Limited, is implementing the project.