Sadly familiar phenomenon
IT IS indeed an irony that while there is no dearth of platitudes to save the environment and encourage pro-nature behaviour, the capital city struggles to cope with a huge amount of sewage produced every day. A New Age report published on Sunday states that of the total amount of waste produced in Dhaka, only 20 per cent can be treated at the Pagla Treatment Plant, leaving the rest to end up on the roads and in the city encircling water bodies. The fetid state of the Buriganga, which has come into focus in recent times for the thick layer of grime, is testament to the reckless disposal of sewage. As residents are to blame for connecting sewage lines to storm drainage systems, it needs to be admitted that in the absence of a proper network of waste disposal, there is very little they can do other than resort to something expedient which gets rid of the waste. For the moment, this approach may take out the filth but since this is not a permanent solution, the actual problem only festers into something unmanageable.
The signs of urban suffering are becomes all the more evident when clogged sewage mixing with stagnant rainwater creates a cesspool right in the heart of the city. Residents of several areas have complained of intolerable stench but the repercussions go beyond the simple irritation to the senses. Accumulation of filthy water is a breeding ground for all conceivable diseases as well as providing a fertile ground for dengue-causing mosquitoes. On a larger scale, sewage falling into rivers and water bodies severely harms the environment, resulting in depletion of aquatic life. There have been reports about polluted rivers pushing several fish species into extinction.
Obviously, the immediate need is to develop a separate subterranean network supported by more treatment plants. Dhaka has increased phenomenally in the last decade and will continue to do so; therefore, efforts to upgrade the current system of waste disposal must be taken immediately. According to the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority, there is a three-tiered master plan and it would be prudent to work along with it. Meanwhile, establishing treatment plants should be a development priority for which the field level work can be done. The topping to all this is of course the injection of some civic sense that would force city resident to think twice before dumping any garbage in an open space and prevent them from giving a nod to a procedure which takes the problem from instant view to snowball somewhere else.
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