Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology civil engineering professor Tanvir Ahmed said that for absence of sewage treatment facilities in Dhaka, the city is faced with a situation similar to that if open defecation was the norm.
Although there were expensive bathrooms in every household, human waste-carrying swage going directly into the river made Dhaka a city where public health is at risk, he added.
‘Toileting under the open sky is equal to discharge of sewage without treatment after toileting in the bathroom,’ he said.
He said that but it was different for the people who had septic tank in house because septic tank was a kind of treatment.
He said that most of the household in Dhaka have no septic tanks and they connected their sewage line with the surface drains which were installed for draining out the rain water.
Thus a huge amount of sewage was discharged daily in the water bodies including canals and lakes, he added.
The environment engineer said that the government should immediately ensure septic tank in every household until it could install sewage network with treatment facilities.
He said that after relocation of tanneries from capital’s Hazaribag, sewage contributed 50 per cent of the total pollution in the water bodies, including the rivers Burignaga, Turag, Balu and Shitalakkha.
Tanvir said that due to the huge pollution, Dhaka WASA could not treat the water of Buriganga and Shitalakkha, therefore they started treating water of the Padma which was very expensive since the river was far away.
Not only that the rivers were losing their respective ecosystems, people could not use the water for other purposes also, he said.
He added that ideally water supply and sewage treatment should be installed simultaneously but for financial crisis many countries of the world in their first initiative ensure water supply first and then sewage.
Dhaka’s first sewage treatment plant was set at Pagla in 1978 for treating 120 million cubic metre sludge daily.
But later the government became indifferent about ensuring sewage treatment as the lone water supply and sewage authority, Dhaka WASA, was floundering faced with the challenge of ensuring water supply.
He also said that there was an acute crisis of money since sewage treatment and its network installation needed huge funding.
‘It is high time to take pragmatic steps for safe waste water management,’ he added.
Tanvir said that the lone sewage treatment plant at Pagla lost its capacity 30 per cent for the lack of proper management of its pipeline network.
He emphasised the need for the implementation of Dhaka WASA Sewerage Master Plan implementation immediately.
He said that public health and environment were badly affecting for the lack of sewage treatment facilities in Dhaka.
The sewage also destroying aquatic lives by reducing the amount of dissolve oxygen in water resulted many fishes were absent in the rivers surrounding the capital.
The situation became the worst during rainy season when rain water mixed with sewage entered into the household and business entities.
Tanvir said that there were huge scopes of wealth recovery from the huge sludge as many of the developed countries were practicing.
‘We may generate organic fertilizer for cultivation, biogas to use as fuel and we may generate electricity after processing the faecal sludge,’ he said.
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