Plastic pollution in our rivers has reached such an alarming level that it has now become difficult for the authorities to even dredge the rivers because of these non-biodegradable wastes. We are stunned to learn from a report by The Daily Star on February 16 that the dredging work in the Karnaphuli river has slowed down because of a deep layer of polythene in the riverbed. Reportedly, the Chattogram Port Authority (CPA) had started a dredging project at a cost of BDT 258 crore in 2018 to restore the navigability of the Karnaphuli, but they found it difficult to continue the dredging because the cutter blades of the dredgers were getting jammed with polythene. Also, a survey conducted by BUET researchers has found that the riverbed has a layer of polythene and plastic waste stretching from two to seven metres.
Karnaphuli has become the worst victim of the polythene menace, since the polythene bags dumped in the 37 canals of Chattogram eventually end up in the river. What it means is that even if the dredging work of the river is done properly, the river will not get back its flow because of the continuous stream of polythene into the river. The only way Karnaphuli can be saved is by making sure that no polythene and plastic wastes are dumped in the city's canals.
While the authorities should continue with the dredging work, they must also coordinate with the city authorities to clean up all the canals. The clogged-up canals are the main reason for the city's waterlogging problem during monsoon. We hope that the Chattogram Development Authority and the Chattogram City Corporation will come to an understanding about cleaning the canals.
As for fighting the plastic menace across the country, the authorities concerned should follow the High Court directives, according to which the government must strictly enforce the ban on polythene or throwaway plastic bags through regular market monitoring and closure of polythene manufacturing factories. Only through complying with rules and regulations, and by raising awareness among people about the detrimental impact of polythene on our environment, can we stop plastic pollution and save our rivers.