The Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) is yet to earmark a piece of land for waste disposal in its eight years of establishment, resulting in severe environmental pollution and causing serious health hazards for the residents.
GCC dumps waste in open spaces and water bodies after collecting those from different households instead of setting up waste landfills since its establishment back in 2013. Before emerging as a city corporation, it was a Gazipur Municipality from 1986.
Talking to the Daily Sun, GCC Assistant Chief Waste Management Officer Md Arifur Rahman said, “The city corporation is looking for some suitable pieces of land to set up sanitary landfills for disposing of waste in an environment-friendly way. If we get the land, we have a plan of setting up eight landfills for eight zones of the GCC.”
But he could give a specific timeframe for setting up the landfills.
The Department of Environment, which is tasked to take action against this malpractice, has turned a blind eye to this serious pollution.
Nayan Mia, Deputy Director of the Department of Environment of Gazipur district office, has expressed his helplessness in taking action against the polluters.
“We cannot take action against the city corporation as it is a part of a government and we need to work with them under the same umbrella,” he said.
Locals also said that the water bodies including Turag River are being affected by the massive water pollution for disposing of waste indiscriminately.
While visiting different areas of GCC, this correspondent has found that cleaners of GCC are mainly dumping wastes in two spots at Baimail area of Turag River near Dhaka-Mymensingh highway and a big open space beside Gacha road under Tongi area.
It has been seen that the cleaners are dumping solid waste in these two spots after collecting those from 57 wards of GCC through vans, trucks, and pickups.
Of the four-lane Dhaka-Mymensingh highway, a lane is completely damaged due to indiscriminate dumping of waste --- creating disruption in traffic movement on the main road. A large portion of Turag River beside the highway is being filled up and the leachate is seen rolling down on river water from a large pile of waste.
Biva Rani Saha, a resident who lives within five meters of the waste platform by the Turag River, said that her life has turned into a nightmare since the GCC started dumping waste here.
“I cannot stay in my house and take food due to bad odour and toxic gases. Wastewater rolling down from the pile submerges our houses. We are suffering from skin diseases and breathing problems frequently,” she said.
Her neighbour Lalita Rani, who is among the 10 to 12 families live in the area, said that she has been going through similar experiences.
South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC), the road development authorities of Dhaka–Northwest Corridor Road Project, put up a signboard by the dumping point which reads that the lane for slow-moving vehicles got damaged totally while the main road was damaged partially due to dumping of waste.
The scenario is more or less the same at Gacha road as cleaners are seen dumping waste on a big fallow land surrounded by a residential area on one side and some industries on the other.
Jony Mia, a cleaner of ward no 54, said that he has been dumping waste by the Gacha road for two years.
“Earlier, we used to dump the waste besides Board Bazar road but people protested it vehemently. Now, we are dumping waste here,” he said.
Md Mohibul Islam, a resident of Dakkhin Khailkur, said they pay Tk 50 every month for the waste collection.
Ayesha Akther, who lives next to the dumping spot at the Gacha road under Kuniapara, said, “It has become impossible to live in the area as many insects enter into our room from the heap of the waste.”
Showing the heap of waste through a window of her building, she also said, “I have also lost my income due to dumping of waste as the tenants have left my building.”
Environment experts and activists have strongly criticised GCC for dumping waste on roadside footpaths and water bodies.
Iqbal Habib, a noted architect and joint secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), said, “It is an institutional crime. There is no scope for dumping waste on roads under the Environment and Waterbody Conservation Act. Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) has warned them not to continue this insensible practice and provided necessary direction to set up new landfill.”
In 2013, with the area of Tongi and Gazipur municipalities, GCC was formed where over 50 lakh people reside. According to GCC officials, around 3,500 tonnes of solid waste is generated per day.
In addition to holding tax, each family of the area is paying Tk 50 per month to GCC for household waste collection. There are 175, 451 holdings in GCC where around 500,000 families live, as per the estimate of GCC.