Dealing with industrial effluents
Rahman Jahangir | Published:
February 10, 2016 22:24:14
October 20, 2017 23:22:20
The government seems to be serious about ensuring a healthy environment by dealing effectively with industrial effluents. The shipping minister has recently issued a warning that the industrial units on riversides which fail to set up effluent treatment plants (ETPs) within the stipulated time frame would be closed down. He sounded this warning at an inter-ministerial meeting of the taskforce which has been entrusted with the responsibility of making the four rivers, Buriganga, Shitalakhya, Balu and Turag around Dhaka, pollution-free. The shipping minister said they would take development projects to prevent pollution in the rivers. Consultants would be appointed to conduct a feasibility study to this end. The meeting decided to raise mass awareness engaging local members of parliament (MPs), Mayors and Councilors to save the rivers from pollution. Only the future can tell whether the words be translated into a reality.
The government has time and again urged all to be environment-friendly. The prime minister often says, no development would be sustainable without coherence with the environment. She said her government is undertaking a sustainable development plan to provide food and shelter for the increasing population and face onslaught of climate change to achieve mid- and long-term goals for the country's prosperity. Rivers, lands and environment by no means could be polluted by industrial wastages. No development jeopardising the environment will sustain.
But then, sadly, millions of gallons of untreated wastewaters, mainly from industries, are being dumped every day into the rivers around Dhaka city through as many as 185 outlets. Seventy of the outlets are located at Sayedpur and Murapara in Rupganj of Narayanganj alone, contaminating the Shitalakkhya with toxic industrial waste. The rivers are slowly dying as most of the factories are not using effluent treatment plants.
According to an estimate, Dhaka city dwellers generate at least 1.8 million cubic metres of sewage daily. Most of this huge quantity of waste is untreated and is dumped into different rivers, canals and water bodies. The lone waste treatment plant at Pagla in Narayanganj has a capacity of treating 1,20,000 cubic metre of sewage but it can give only one-third its output due to clogged sewage pipes.
Then again, around 80 per cent areas in Dhaka city -- including residential hubs like Uttara, Baridhara, Badda, parts of Mirpur and Mohammadpur, Dania, Shyamoli, Kalyanpur, Banani, part of Gulshan and Jatrabari -- are still out of Wasa's sewage network. According to experts, 11 waste treatment plants should be set up at different strategic points in and outside the city under a master plan of Wasa (Dhaka Water And Sewerage Authority). Wasa has decided to upgrade the Pagla plant and set up four new sewage treatment plants in the city. By 2025, all the five plants would be in full operation and the core city areas would come under the Wasa's sewage network.
Unplanned urbanisation, rapid industrialisation, loss of forest land, unscrupulous use of pesticides and chemicals, river pollution, excess use of underground water and unwarranted interference in occasional enforcement drives are challenges to protection of environment, ecology and development. These challenges have to be addressed urgently.
The government is also seriously working on the issue of pollution. The industries ministry has undertaken a plan for online monitoring of the operation of the ETP in industries. A total of 812 Effluent Treatment Plants were set up in the industries from 2009 to 2013. By 2018, every industry must have ETP, according to a directive of the prime minister. Modern technologies were introduced in about 2,141 brick producing factories. Gradually all brick kilns are expected to be modernised.