Wastes must not be dumped, get into rivers

Published at 12:00am on October 13, 2019

THE Savar municipality’s unplanned and chaotic disposal of wastes of all kinds on low lands, canals and river banks is worrying as the wastes continue to pollute the Dhaleshwari, Bangshi and Turag rivers. The municipality collects at least 200 tonnes of wastes daily and dumps them on 50 locations, mostly on canals, rivers and low lands connected to the rivers, leaving both environment and public health in jeopardy. Residents of the municipal area, however, claim that the municipality collects only 40 per cent of the wastes in the industry-intensive area while the uncollected wastes remain littered by roads and in open spaces, eventually finding way to low lands, rivers and canals. The municipal authorities, who were fined Tk 50 lakh by the environment department in 2012 for dumping solid wastes into Karnapara canal connected to the Dhaleshwari, has not yet been able to build safe dumps. Industrial wastes, also from the ‘environmentally-friendly’ Savar Leather Estate, therefore continue to pollute the rivers at Savar, a fast-growing industrial area on the outskirts of the capital city.

The chaotic state of waste management, however, is not only an occurrence at Savar. Other fast-growing and industry-intensive areas such as Narayanganj, Kenraniganj, Gazipur and others on the outskirts of the capital also face the same problems in waste management. Unplanned development, the absence of effective measures and short-sighted solutions to pressing problems such as waste management have contributed to the situation. When many countries have adapted new technologies to recycle wastes and transform them into wealth, Bangladesh lags way behind even in effectively managing wastes. Although there are a number of laws, rules, policies and guidelines to ensure environmentally-friendly waste management, neither the chaotic disposal of solid, industrial and faecal wastes in open spaces, low-lying areas, canals and rivers has been arrested, nor has any recycle mechanism to transform wastes into fuel, fertiliser or power been implemented. The unplanned disposal of municipal wastes not only pollutes the environment but also adversely impacts soil fertility, spreads diseases and affects the food chain. Wrong and short-sighted policies and apathy to law enforcement, along with poor budgetary allocation for waste management, have led to waste management failures not only at Savar but also in other places.

The municipal authorities, therefore, must build safe dumps for waste disposal. Moreover, they must collect all the wastes and dump them safely so that no adverse impact befalls the rivers, environment and public health. The government and the agencies concerned at the same time must come up with effective waste management plans and execute them promptly. Required attention and budgetary allocation must also be given to waste recycling.