Seventy-seven million cubic metres of liquid waste and 20.64 million tonnes of solid waste generated in river vessels and trains in a year are dumped on the railway and waterway, polluting the environment and exposing public health to a serious threat, a government study says.
The untreated waste dumping occurs as the government has no system to manage these hazardous wastes, said the study done from January to September 2018.
The study jointly done by the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and the Department of Public Health Engineering found that the trains and vessels discharged these untreated hazardous faecal wastes throughout the inland waterways and the railway.
The university professor Goutam Kumar Saha told New Age on Monday that the study got the sanitation picture interviewing 572 passengers of 49 waterborne vessels for different destinations from Dhaka and 296 passengers on different trains and platforms.
He said that 27.5 million cubic metre liquid wastes and 18.25m tonne solid wastes were generated on vessels as they were carrying 50 million passengers a year mostly to the country’s southern districts.
According to the study, 348 trains, carrying 90 million passengers a year to different destination from Dhaka, alone discharge 49.5m cubic metres of liquid and 2.47m kg solid wastes throughout the railway.
Water Aid Bangladesh country director Khairul Islam said that dumping waste water on the rivers was dangerous for public health as it could spread cholera and diarrhoea in the downstream.
Even faecal contamination has been found in water supplied by the Dhaka WASA as it treats these river waters to supply to the consumers and the river waters are too contaminated, said Khairul, also a public health expert.
He said that it was here that government was facing the challenge in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 6.1 and 6.2 relating to water and sanitation set by the United Nations.
Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan general secretary Abdul Motin said that the waters of all the rivers in Bangladesh were polluted and defecation was only aggravating the pollution.
He demanded governmental action against all the sources of polluting the rivers.
The study said that the government succeeded in reducing defecation at open places from 42 per cent in 2003 to one per cent in 2015.
But no positive results could be expected until the government stopped dumping the faecal wastes on the waterways and the railway, public health experts said.
Ariful Rahman of Tongi in Gazipur said that thousands of people who go on foot on the railway in his area to avoid traffic jams take the risk of suffering serious waterborne diseases.
He said that the local inhabitants and the commuters endure odour of faecal wastes dumped by passing trains on the roads as well as on the railway.
He said any study would reveal that the intensity of water borne diseases would be much higher in the area.
Bangladesh Railway director Golam Mostafa told New Age that there were two toilets for 60 passengers in each train compartment.
‘But as we have no waste management system trains dump the wastes on the way,’ he said.
The water transports lack the system of treating wastes.
The Local Government and Rural Development minister Md Tazul Islam said that treating wastes on trains and water transports was not easy.
Local government division secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said that sanitation management in Bangladesh was better than any other country like Bangladesh.
Public health experts warned that disastrous water borne diseases might occur in Bangladesh as it happened in Haiti after the 2010 quake.
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