If no action is taken to stop pollution of the river Meghna, there is a serious risk that water of the river would be untreatable to produce drinking in the near future and it would suffer the same fate as Buriganga, said speakers at a seminar yesterday.
The national seminar on “Strengthening Monitoring and Enforcement in the Meghna River for Dhaka's Sustainable Water Supply” was held at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka. It was organised by the Department of Environment.
Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) has been setting up two water treatment plants -- Gandhobpur and Sayedabad phase-III, bringing water from Meghna River as the four rivers surrounding Dhaka are considerably polluted. The treated drinking water will be distributed to city dwellers.
“A study on the pollution sources showed that there are five heavily polluted tributary canals on the west bank of the Meghna that discharge directly into the river: Amider, Bisnondi, Boatarder, Haridua, and Jhawchar canals. These canals carry both domestic and industrial wastewater,” said study team leader R Hans Aalderink.
Aalderink in his presentation said there are over 2000 factories on the west bank of the river, mainly in Narayanganj and Narsingdi districts. There are also 13 direct industrial outfalls that discharge into the river, which have a negative impact on the water quality locally, he said.
“If we cannot recover the four rivers -- Buriganga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakkhya -- from pollution and encroachment, that means our policy and system are not working,” said Anisul Islam Mahmud, environment, forest and climate change minister, in his speech as the chief guest.
Mahmud said, “In roughly 30 years, we have destroyed four important rivers and in another 30, we are going to destroy a few more,” stressing the need for recovering the four rivers surrounding Dhaka.
Managing Director of Dhaka Wasa Taqsem A Khan said they have plans to bring water from Padma and Meghna rivers for the two treatment plants.
He said though they have set up Sayedabad Water Treatment Plant Phase-I and Phase-II by bringing water from Shitalakkhya River, Phase-III could not possible due to its severe pollution.
He said there are many rules and regulations but their enforcement remain inadequate.
A joint enforcement team, under the leadership of ministry of industries, is essential to save the rivers from encroachment and pollution, he said.
Mentioning steps taken by government to save the rivers, Abdullah Al Mohsin Chowdhury, secretary to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change said a master plan of four Dhaka rivers have already been completed which will be approved in next taskforce meeting.
The seminar was presided over by Dr SM Manjurul Hannan Khan, additional secretary to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change.
Among others, Yasuharu Shinto, Charge de Affairs and Counsellor of Japanese Embassy in Dhaka and Manmohan Parkash, country director, Asian Development Bank, also spoke at the programme.