Bangladesh Institute of Planners general secretary and also Jahangirnagar University urban planning professor Adil Mohammed Khan said that community-based small sewerage system was the best for Dhaka.
He said that sewage network installation was a massive task, which was very much expensive and destructive in a developed city.
‘If the government now wants to set sewerage network in already developed area it will create huge public nuisance and necessitate demolition of many structures and it will also be highly expensive,’ he observed.
Adil said that ideally a city should have a pre-planned diagram for installing sewerage system before the development, but in Dhaka’s case it was absent even at a modern area like Uttara.
He said that non-network sewerage treatment facility would be cost-effective for densely populated and already developed Dhaka.
He explained that Dhaka WASA in cooperation with other agencies like City Corporation and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha at first should ensure septic tanks in households.
Dhaka WASA would collect the sewerage from the septic tank by vacuum truck and treat them.
The households that have no septic tanks should make a common septic tank in a particular area from where Dhaka WASA would collect sludge and treat it, he said.
Adil said that if there were a huge number of people in the city living in informal settlements, it was possible to bring them under the sanitation coverage following the network system.
He also suggested that the government should increase capacity of the areas where it has network and to pre-install the network before the development of any new area commenced.
Dhaka WASA has taken a sewerage master plan in 2012 and that it would need $1.7 billion to set eight treatment plants with pipeline network to ensure sewerage treatment in its jurisdiction, which included Dhaka and part of Narayanganj.
According to the master plan, Dhaka WASA targeted to complete the task by 2035.
Adil said that before the implementation of the project, the government should rethink the opportunity cost. Cost-effective measures should be taken for public interest.
On the present practice of the government, he said that although the primary estimate was $1.7 billion, the project cost would increase several times during the implementation stage.
He said that sewerage facility was one of the very basic services like road connectivity, water and electricity supply, but the concern government agencies had never given concentration on that.
He said that this very vital public health issue remained unaddressed due to indifference of the government agencies.
‘Now the problem is very acute, one has no alternative but to take immediate action,’ he said, urging the government to take steps.
Adil said that the environmental and health cost of sewerage pollution was very high so the government should take immediate pragmatic actions.
Furthermore, safe management of wastewater was an issue of Sustainable Development Goals.
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