Safe and pure drinking water always remains a matter of deep concern for the inhabitants of Dhaka. Of the total 2.25 million litres of daily water demand, a substantial percentage is supplied after treating surface water of the rivers of Dhaka. But water of these rivers is polluted to such an extent that no surface water treatment plant (SWTP) of Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (Wasa) of Dhaka has the capacity to neutralise it. This has put the city residents in critical health risks. Meanwhile, the High Court has formed a committee of test if piped water of Wasa is safe for use. The committee will investigate whether Wasa has negligence and inaction to its responsibility, but at the same time we hope they put forward some recommendations to check pollution of all five rivers around Dhaka as they are the major sources of drinking water for the city people.
The riverside tanneries’ and industries’ random discharge of untreated heavy metals like chromium, lead, cadmium, mercury and so on — whose presence in the water may cause serious kidney, liver, stomach and lung diseases — to the Dhaka rivers has become the main reason for water pollution. Wasa has confirmed that the water authority does not test any parameters of heavy metals present in the river-water as appropriate provisions to do so were not made since the instalment of those SWTPs in the early 90’s. Surface water treatment is a technically complex process and simultaneously expensive too. And domestic waste water and untreated effluents of industries are severely polluting the water as well as creating a big challenge for treating it. If no pollution control measures for Dhaka’s waterbodies are undertaken at source as early as possible, water quality would further deteriorate to a certain point that no technology would be able to treat it any further.
The government has no other way but to be truly committed to save these rivers from severe pollution. In this regard, the government attempts need to be revitalised. It has been no less than seven years since ministries concerned urged the representatives of business communities to install effluent treatment plants (ETPs) in their respective industries and even threatened to disconnect the supply of gas, electricity and water to their factories in case of their failure to comply with the order. But no action has been taken against the flouters of government rules, and most of the factories are operating without ETPs. Not only that, the industries which have ETPs do not run theirs with an eye to minimising production costs of their goods. This callous attitude towards the government rules must be stopped once and for all. The government needs to tighten its fist in order to save the rivers and ensure safe water for Dhaka residents.