THE photograph that New Age printed on its back page on Monday, shows toxic blue-green algae covering parts of Hatirjheel Lake and triggering serious environmental pollution. This brings to the fore the indifference of the government and people to environment and ecology. Hatirjheel Lake is suffocating to death as it has gradually lost its beauty except for the night-time lighting, with its water turning into a deadly open waste disposal ground in the heart of capital. Since its opening, Hatirjheel has drawn a large number of visitors and become one of the gathering hubs for city people. Even foreign tourists are taken there by guides to enjoy the beauty of Hatirjheel, savour the taste of foods at eateries and enjoy a water taxi ride there. But the foul smell of waste and polluted water drives away people from the area. All its charms are on the brink of being lost just like those of the River Buriganga, with solid waste, human excreta, water bottles, plastics and such other materials floating around in the dark, foul-smelling water of Hatirjheel.
The government invested a sizeable amount of money on beautifying the lake, but water pollution has remained a major concern because of non-stop drainage of solid waste as well as rotten household bins and other garbage from different areas into the lake. Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology experts believe that without a proper waste water treatment plant, there is no way out from the stagnant contaminated water. The problem surfaced a few months after the inauguration when the stench coming from the contaminated water filled the lake and adjacent areas. Experts believe that the absence of proper monitoring and the dumping of industrial wastes and the connecting of the sewers with the rainwater collection channels have aggravated the situation. Even the Special Sewerage Diversion Structure, designed for Hatirjheel that reroutes the storm water and sewers, has proved ineffective to deal with solid wastes. The contaminated water now poses threats to health as well. Many are reported to have fallen ill in the past few months.
The government needs to set up a waste water treatment plant and a sediment basin at the Special Sewer Diversion Structure immediately to decontaminate the lake water. The government also needs to intensify monitoring so that dumping of industrial waste and other wastes is soon stopped.
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