A report in this paper on Sunday has revealed the poor condition of a canal due to disgorgement of effluent by the Maize Advance Argo Refineries (MAAR) Limited in Habiganj which produces starch powder. The factory management and owners have violated the existing rules and even misrepresented facts by claiming they have an effluent plant. But that, reportedly, is not working. The untreated liquid waste is dumped into the canal, conveniently, which ultimately falls into the Sutang River. Needless to say, dumping untreated liquid waste pollutes the water bodies and affects the life of every living creature in and around the canal and the river. The water is unusable, the marine life is all but decimated, the crop fields cannot be irrigated, and poultry and cattle succumb due to the polluted water.
The report, presented as a part of survey by this paper on the occasion of World Rivers Day, informs us that many such factories and industrial establishments dump untreated waste into canals, rivers and other water bodies in the Shahpur area in Habiganj's Madhabpur upazila.
Protests and remonstrations of the locals have had little effect. And if, as the DC Habiganj claims, the factory was closed, how come it is functioning? Does the local administration have no way of monitoring such gross violation of their order? And what was the Director of the Sylhet Divisional Office of the Department of Environment doing the last six years, since, according its Director, the MAAR Ltd has been functioning without the environmental clearance certificate since 2014? It is incomprehensible that such a grossly illegal act could have been possible without the Sylhet DOE's knowledge.
MAAR Ltd is not the only factory in the country polluting our rivers and canals, deliberately. We believe that the condition of the Ekhtiarpur canal and the Sutang River represents fairly the state of our rivers and canals all over the country, particularly those that pass through industrial belts. And the performance of the local administration, including the office of the local department of environment has been not only shoddy, but in some cases these offices have been complicit in the environmental pollution. The local administrations must address river pollution, on which the government has laid so much stress. Otherwise, we may end up with dead canals and rivers, and sooner than we think.