WHEN many countries have adapted new technologies to recycle wastes, Bangladesh lags way behind in even effectively managing solid and faecal waste which has adverse impact on the habitat and public health. Although Bangladesh observed World Habitat Day on Monday with the motto of ‘Frontier technologies as an innovative tool to transform waste to wealth’, the waste being recycled into wealth seems to be a distant possibility. What Bangladesh has so far been able to do in waste management is nothing but to relocate wastes habitats to dumps which has not resolved any problems. The unplanned yearly disposal of an estimated 22.4 million tonnes of solid and faecal waste in urban and rural areas causes the loss of agricultural land and habitats. 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 the reuse of wastes for fuel, fertiliser or power been implemented.
The unplanned disposal of municipal wastes, faecal sludge and electric wastes, as green campaigners and urban planners say, continues to pollute the environment, adversely impacting soil fertility and spreading diseases such as malaria, respiratory problems and other water-borne diseases. An improper waste management also affects the food chain as plants and animals bioaccumulate heavy metals, present in the wastes, from the environment and the plants and animals, used as sources of food, then contribute to the uptake of heavy metals by humans. Only the capital city, for an example, produces an estimated 35,100 tonnes of solid wastes a day, resulting from municipal, industrial and commercial activities while the city authorities could collect only a half of the waste for disposal in dumps. The other half of the waste remains uncollected, littered by the roads and in other open spaces, exposing the environment to danger. Moreover, only 20 per cent of the city area is under sewerage coverage, which results into the pollution of water and air. The picture of other cities, municipalities and rural areas is no less upsetting. Wrong policies, apathy to law enforcement, poor budgetary allocation for waste management and sanitation along with poor coordination and bureaucratic tangles among relevant ministries and agencies have led to waste management failures.
The government and the agencies concerned, under the circumstances, must come up with effective waste management plans and execute them promptly to save people and the environment. Required attention and budgetary allocation must also be given to reuse and recycle solid wastes to transform them into wealth and to do that, coordination among relevant agencies has to be ensured to get the maximum result in waste management.
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