Thursday, 18 August, 2022

Pollution, encroachment endanger Karnaphuli

CHATTOGRAM: Uncontrolled pollution, siltation and encroachment continue to pose a great threat to the Karnaphuli River, considered an economic lifeline of the country.

Industrial effluents, household liquid and solid wastes, and oil spillage from water transports are major contributors to the pollution in the river.

The siltation and encroachment caused the river to lose some 500 metres in width in the last 22 years, revealed a recent survey. 

On the other hand, the eviction drive that was started on the banks of the river in 2019 got stuck in legal tangles.

According to the sources, there are over 700 small and heavy industries, owned by both government and non-government entities, on the banks of the river.

Some dishonest industry owners discharge liquid chemical waste into the river keeping the Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP) off to save money sometimes, alleged the sources.

Besides, in absence of sewerage treatment plants, the liquid and solid household wastes produced by over six million people of the city also find their way into the river through drains and canals every day.

The mindless pollution is posing a great threat to the aquatic lives and ecosystem of the river, said experts.

Chattogram-based environmental group 'Karnaphuli River and Canal Protection Movement' carried out a survey on the river's depth and encroachment on both sides from March 1 to April 30 this year.

They claimed that the Karnaphuli has lost an average of 500 metres in width due to encroachment and siltation in the last 22 years.

According to the report, the width of the river was 930.31 metres in 2000, which has reduced to 410 meters currently. So an average of 500 metres in width has disappeared in the last 22 years.

The Shah Amanat Bridge over the river is also under threat due to the increase in depth on one side of the upstream, revealed the survey.

The Department of Environment (DoE) in Chattogram regularly examines the water of the river for monitoring level of the pollution.

The DoE (Metro) Director Hillol Biswas told the Daily Sun on Saturday that the parameters of the standard of water in the river didn’t go beyond the acceptable levels largely due to the low and high-tide features of it and hilly onrush.

He informed that among the total 291 industries, 31 lack ETP in the city.

Operations at some of the industries have been suspended while some of them submitted the drawing and design of ETP for approval, said the director.

“We keep close vigilance on the industries so that they cannot discharge the liquid wastage bypassing the ETP,” he said.

Moreover, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed to install IP cameras at the ETP outlets of the industries. A seminar was also organised to make the concerned authorities aware in this regard recently, said Hillol.

Researcher Professor Dr Edris Ali said Karnaphuli is not a river like others in the country as it has economic value.

Concentration should be attached to the river considering its regional and national importance, he said.

“The water containing capacity of the river has reduced by some 20 per cent for different reasons. The pollution and reduction in depth are also putting the aquatic lives and ecosystem of the river in threat,” he observed.

The researcher emphasized recapturing the encroached area from both banks, capital dredging in a coordinated plan and efforts to resist the pollution.

'Karnaphuli River and Canal Protection Movement' General Secretary Aliur Rahman said legal complexities over the eviction of illegal structures from the river banks were mostly settled.

“The district administration should take immediate steps for evicting the illegal structures from the banks,” he added.